Local CEO recovering after plane crash

Justin Knight, president and CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT. (2015/Jonathan Spiers)

Justin Knight, president and CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT. (2015/Jonathan Spiers)

The top executive of a downtown-based publicly traded company is expected to fully recover after a July Fourth plane crash in Buckingham County.

Justin Knight, president and CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT, sustained serious, non-life-threatening injuries in the crash, the company said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

The statement includes a comment from Glade Knight, Justin’s father and executive chairman of the hotel-focused REIT.

“We greatly appreciate the concern for Justin’s well-being and the outpouring of support following yesterday’s accident,” Glade Knight is quoted as saying. “We feel very fortunate that the injuries he sustained were not more serious and we look forward to his full recovery.”

The statement says Justin Knight’s day-to-day responsibilities will be covered in the meantime by COO Krissy Gathright and CFO Bryan Peery.

According to a report by the Times-Dispatch, Knight was piloting a small plane Tuesday when it crashed in a cornfield in Dillwyn, injuring the 43-year-old and his 11-year-old son, the plane’s only passenger.

Knight was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where he initially was listed in critical condition. The paper reported his condition as fair Wednesday afternoon. Knight’s son was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

State police are investigating the crash, which was said to have been caused by the engine stalling out.

Knight has led Apple Hospitality REIT as president since 2014, when he was named CEO upon the company’s creation through the merger of the Apple REIT Seven, Eight and Nine funds. He has been with Apple REIT Cos., which his father founded, since 2000, and has served on its board of directors since 2015, when the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s leadership team includes Knight’s younger brother Nelson Knight, who serves as chief investment officer. It owns 235 Hilton- and Marriott-branded hotels in 33 states, including the downtown Richmond Marriott and the Courtyard Marriott and Residence Inn in Shockoe Slip.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, Knight has an MBA with an emphasis in corporate strategy and finance from the university’s Marriott School and is a member of its National Advisory Council.

According to company SEC filings, he also serves on the board of trustees for Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, the Marriott Owners Advisory Council, the Residence Inn Association Board, the American Hotel and Lodging Association Board of Directors and its executive committee, and co-chairs the American Hotel and Lodging Association Owners Council.

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