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Bergen County Neurologist and Wife Killed in Plane Crash

Ohio plane crash claims Viswanathan Rajaraman, M.D., and Mary J. Sundaram, parents of chick-lit author Kaavya Viswanathan

A well-known neuro-oncologist and his wife were killed in a plane crash in Ohio on Sunday morning. The Franklin Lakes couple, pilot Viswanathan Rajaraman, M.D., 54, and passenger Mary J. Sundaram, 50, were taking off from Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday when their plane caught fire and crashed east of the runway, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Dr. Raj, as he was known to patients, was Chief of Neurooncology at the Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and headed Neurooncology at Valley Hospital, in Ridgewood. He earned his medical degree from University of Madras, India, where had had a private practice for five years, before moving to the U.K., practicing neurosurgery in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, before moving to the U.S. in 1994 for a fellowship at the Christ Hospital and Mayfield Neurological Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as Chief Resident at North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC and at University Hospital, UMDNJ, Newark, before getting a fellowship in surgical Neurooncology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, according to North Jersey Brain & Spine.

The website nycaviation.com reports the couple was heading back to New Jersey from their daughter's, Kaavya Viswanathan, graduation at Georgetown University, making a fuel stop in Ohio. In 2007, Kaavya, made news as a Harvard undergraduate student when she was accused of plagiarizing her first book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life." Subsequently, her book contract was canceled and her budding career as an author came to an abrupt end.

Ohio troopers, the Federal Aviation Administration, Port Authority, National Transportation Safety Bureau and other agencies all responded to the scene of the crash, which involved a 2008 Cirrus CR22 plane. OSHP said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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