Israeli entrepreneurs die in Truckee plane crash

Two people died when a single-engine airplane crashed amid moderate snow conditions in a California mountain town just north of Lake Tahoe on March 31, 2024. Photo: KCRA 

The couple who died when their plane crashed in a California mountain town just north of Lake Tahoe were identified by their colleagues as an Israeli couple with three boys who were also Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. 

Friends said that Liron and Naomi Petrushka died when their Socata TBM9 crashed around 6:40 p.m. Saturday while on approach to Truckee Tahoe Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

The Times of Israel reported that Liron started a tech company with Naomi and his brother-in-law in 1999, which sold a year later for $242 million, according to the Ynet news site.

"They brought their entrepreneurial spirit and generosity to our fund, working with us and our founders on many pivotal milestones," an UpWest spokesperson wrote on social media. "Their home was always open as were their big hearts. We are all heartbroken by this loss."

The company funds and fast-tracks Israeli startups entering into the US market. 

"He has the pure intention of supporting the startup. He was a very founder-friendly investor," Iddo Tal, an entrepreneur based in Palo Alto, told KCRA-3.

Tal said that Liron Petrushka was one of the first investors of his former company, Invi.

"It’s really very amazing to see an entrepreneur -- a very successful, a very successful investor – hands-on, mentor you, support you," Tal said. "[He was] a very humble, great human being."

Tal recalled flying with Petrushka in his airplane over San Francisco, recalling how much he loved to fly and how much fun he was.

"It's a big loss for us in the community in the Silicon Valley," Tal told KCRA on Sunday. "It’s big shoes to fill up and I hope all of us will just keep supporting the next generation of founders like he did."

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash. Officials said the single-engine plane crashed on Union Pacific Rail property, south of Glenshire Drive, between the rail line and Truckee River.

The NTSB is asking anyone with surveillance video to contact investigators.

"[He was] such an inspiring guy," Tal said. "I hope he rests in peace."

The Times of Israel also reported that Liron Petrushka was a former soccer player for the Hapoel Ramat Gan Givatayim team, and his son Jordan used to play for Israel’s junior team.

Liron Petrushka (right) and friend Iddo Tal (left). Courtesy of Iddo Tal