Steve Barnes, one half of prominent Buffalo, N.Y.-based law firm Cellino & Barnes, died in a plane crash on Friday, as confirmed by numerous outlets and his former legal partner Ross Cellino.
Barnes, a registered pilot, was found dead along with his niece, Elizabeth Barnes. The plane, which had been coming from Manchester, N.H., crashed around 11:45 a.m. in a wooded area near Pembroke, N.Y., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It is not yet known if any other people were involved in the fatal incident.
"It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic passing of Steve Barnes in a plane crash," Cellino said in a statement. "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."
Cellino added that Barnes is survived by his "greatest accomplishment" his children Josiah, Rachel and Julia, as well as his longtime love Ellen Sturm.
Cellino & Barnes was well-known beyond its New York origins for its catchy "Don’t wait, call 8" jingle, referring to the easy-to-remember phone number 1-800-888-8888. The advertisement was so popular that it was spoofed on Saturday Night Live. The two attorneys worked together for nearly three decades before an acrimonious split up in 2017, landing the pair in court battles over the splintering of the firm.
Following the dissolution, Barnes went on to form his own firm, The Barnes Firm Injury Attorneys. The new business also had its own jingle, this time using the number 1-800-800-0000, and was similarly popular, even resulting in a contest for fans to create their own version of the tune.