An Indian managing director of a U.S. investment firm was among five people who were killed when a small plane lost control and crashed on a New Jersey highway on Tuesday.

Rakesh Chawla, 36, worked at New York-based investment bank Greenhill & Co. The Georgia-bound plane was also carrying a second Greenhill Managing Director Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, his wife and their two children.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane, a 2005 Socata TBM 700 single-engine turboprop, was headed to Atlanta when it lost control and struck a wooded median highway strip in northern New Jersey. The plane exploded upon impact.

Greenhill released a statement saying Buckalew and Chawla were aboard the plane.

“The firm is in deep mourning over the tragic and untimely death of two of its esteemed colleagues and members of Jeff’s family,” the company’s Chairman Robert Greenhill said.

Chawla had specialised in the financial services sector and had joined the firm in 2003 from The Blackstone Group.

The company said he and Buckalew “were extraordinary professionals who were highly respected by colleagues and clients alike. They will be sorely missed and our sympathies go out to their families and friends.”

FAA said wreckage of the plane was scattered over almost a mile near the crash site and one of the plane’s wing was found stuck in a tree.

The plane was scheduled to fly to the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta and had lost radio communication shortly before it crashed.

The company said Buckalew was “an experienced pilot whose passion was flying.”

Witnesses said the plane was “twirling and flipping” before it crashed and they heard a loud noise as it went down.

“It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping,” the New York Daily News quoted eyewitness Chris Covello as saying.

More In: International | News