The biological family of the New York realtor who died in Sunday’s “ghost plane” crash revealed to The Post on Tuesday how she randomly met her late-in-life adoptive parents and why she touchedly bonded with them.
Adina Azarian, 49, a top real estate agent in East Hampton and Manhattan, was adopted nine years ago, at age 40, by business magnate John Rumple and his wife, Barbara — after an accidental meeting, said her half-brother Steven White, 57.
“Adina mentioned something about an arbitrary meeting, literally perhaps standing in line for something, but that’s about all I know,” White said.
He said his sister’s relationship with the older couple then flourished: for them, because Azarian reminded them of their teenage daughter who died in a scuba diving accident in 1994, and for her, because she always wanted “proper parents” after a tumultuous childhood.
Azarian ended up dying Sunday afternoon along with his 2-year-old daughter, Aria, the child’s nanny and a pilot when their private jet, owned by Rumpel, crashed in rural Virginia.
Aviation experts have speculated that a catastrophic drop in cabin pressure sapped oxygen from the aircraft, rendering the pilot and passengers unconscious and leaving the “ghost plane” to fly around for several hours on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed.
White, a jazz musician from Fairfield, Conn., said of Azarian’s relationship with the Rumpels, “I think [they] fulfilled a need that Adina was looking for in terms of having a ‘proper set of parents.’
“Because she never really had the mom, dad, dog, white picket fence,” he said.
He said their mother’s multiple marriages and relocating back and forth from New York and Connecticut helped take its toll on Azarian and broke up their already strained family.
“It just was a case of too much — too many marriages, too many people coming in and out,” White said.
“Adina was at a point where she needed to step back to settle her own mind, make peace with things.
“And I think Adina fulfilled a role that the Rumpels were looking for,” he said.
John Rumpel, 75, owner of Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. in Florida, said in an interview with the Washington Post that Azarian and his daughter Victoria, who died at age 19 in a scuba diving accident in 1994, shared “the same fire in their bellies.
“We had no one else, and we loved her,” he said of Azarian.
Azarian’s biological mother, Christine Graham, 78, told the New York Post, “It seems like there was a mutual need at the time.
“They had lost a daughter in ’94, and Adina, feeling rejected by her mother, me, I think it just clicked,” said Graham, explaining that he struggled with alcoholism when Azarian was younger, although he has been sober for 26 years .
Graham said she was mending her relationship with her daughter when Azarian was killed.
White said his sister asked their mother at one point if she would mind if the Rumpels legally adopted her.
“Yes, we thought it was strange, too, based on age,” he said.
“That’s usually something that happens with kids. But Adina, I think from a mental standpoint, wanted something more permanent so she could at least feel like, ‘Yes, I have proper parents.’ ”
White said he reconnected with his sister during their own chance meeting in 2013 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
As the siblings grew closer, Graham, who lives in New Hampshire, and Azarian began talking again to “mend fences,” too.
Putting the past behind them, Graham said, she enjoyed rebuilding her relationship with her daughter and meeting her granddaughter, whom Azarian had described on social media as a “miracle” after years of miscarriages and fertility treatments.
“We had a good relationship. We were building,” Graham said.
“There were some issues from the past. We’re working on it. We were doing weekly Zoom meetings so I could see my granddaughter.”
The grieving mother added that she was heartbroken when she heard the news of the fatal flight that claimed her daughter and granddaughter’s lives.
“I’m still reeling from the news. It’s just so hard to fathom that this has happened and that she’s gone and that my granddaughter is gone. It’s just unbelievable that this could have happened,” Graham said.
Azarian and Aria, accompanied by nanny Evadnie Smith, were flying home to the Hamptons after a visit with the Rumpels in North Carolina when the Cessna crashed.
The plane flew over restricted airspace around Washington, DC, at one point after the pilot was apparently rendered unconscious, triggering a supersonic response from six F-16 fighter jets that rattled the capital and nearby communities.
The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.