Attorney Stephen Barnes of the famous Cellino & Barnes law firm died Friday when the small plane he was piloting crashed in upstate New York.
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic passing of Steve Barnes in a plane crash,” Barnes’ longtime partner, Ross Cellino, said in a statement to The Buffalo News. “Steve and I worked together for many years at our firm. He was always a fearless advocate for his clients. His passing is a significant loss for the legal community.”
Barnes’ niece was aboard the plane with Barnes, the paper reported, and also died in the crash. Barnes’ wife, Ruth, told the Buffalo News that the pair was heading to a birthday party for his mother in Buffalo when the accident occurred.
At a press briefing earlier Friday, Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron said the plane — a six-passenger Socata TBM700 — was “pretty much disintegrated” as a result of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the incident.
Cellino & Barnes, described as “absurdly ubiquitous” in a recent New York magazine profile, rose to fame in the New York area with prolific advertising, including billboards and TV ads featuring a much-parodied jingle. Barnes and Cellino parted ways earlier this year.
“All of us at Cellino and Barnes are deeply saddened. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Barnes family during this difficult time,” Cellino said.