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Originally published December 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Page modified December 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Amazon executive dies in small-plane crash in Lake Huron

An Amazon executive originally from Michigan was killed Saturday in a small plane that crashed in Lake Huron, according to Michigan authorities.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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An Amazon.com technology executive, formerly an 18-year veteran with Microsoft, died Saturday when a small plane crashed into Lake Huron, according to the Michigan State Police.

Originally from Michigan, Tom Phillips, of Kirkland, was a general manager with Amazon Web Services.

He was flying to a home he owned on Mackinac Island when the crash occurred.

Phillips, 52, joined Amazon in January after leaving Microsoft to found a startup a year earlier.

Phillips combined management and technical skills. During his time at Microsoft, he filed a series of software patents. His most recent position there was general manager of the company's Windows Automotive and Global Services unit.

"In nearly two decades at Microsoft, he was a respected leader across many different businesses," the company said in a statement.

In January 2010, he and Kurt Kolb, another Microsoft executive, formed the startup iTegris, focused on management of software and intellectual-property assets.

According to a Securities and Exchange filing in May, iTegris had raised $4.7 million in equity funding. Phillips left iTegris in October.

Phillips departed St. Ignace, Mich., on Saturday in a commercial single-engine plane operated by Great Lakes Air and piloted by Joe Pann, 29.

Phillips had a house on the bluffs of Mackinac Island, just five minutes flight time away, an exclusive vacation destination where cars are banned.

Mackinac Island resident Sherri Plutchak said Phillips and his wife and daughters always got together with friends there in December.

"He will be missed," Plutchak said. "A great family."

Longtime colleague Kolb said Phillips "was a linchpin for many among his family, his friends and his church."

The wife of the pilot had just had a baby in August, said Plutchak.

Phillips and Pann were reported missing late Saturday night after the plane failed to reach its destination. The U.S. Coast Guard located the plane wreckage Sunday about 100 yards from the shore.

Search-and-rescue crews recovered the bodies of both men.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Mark Tamlyn said fog was a likely factor in the accident. "It looks like he tried to land at the airport on Mackinac and didn't make it," Tamlyn said.

He said investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are to arrive Monday to examine the wreckage.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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