Billionaire David Koch dead at 79: A look back on his life and tale of survival during the 1991 LAX plane crash

Billionaire conservative, activist, and philanthropist David Koch has died at the age of 79.

David and his brother Charles were worth more than $100 billion combined. They'd become some of the most influential political donors in America and led a network of similar minded, wealthy donors. 

The Koch’s supported a number of think tanks that have made the American judiciary more conservative, dramatically lessened environmental regulations, and funded opposition to universal healthcare. 

Related: Billionaire David Koch, a major donor to conservative causes and educational groups, dies at 79

David ran for vice president on the libertarian ticket back in 1980, but most of his donations were made to republicans.

Here’s a story some might not know about him. David Koch was involved in a plane crash at LAX back in 1991. Thirty-four people died when two lanes crashed into each other on the runway. 

1991 LAX plane crash 

Koch says the crash changed his perspective on life. 

CNBC’s Jane Wells was a reporter for FOX 11 at the time and spoke to Koch just moments after the devastating crash. 

“The left said of the plane struck the corner of the building and a tremendous collision a huge ball of fire rolled up on the left side of the plane. I was thrown forward about 5 to 6 feet. All the lights went out and the plane filled up with smoke,” Koch told Wells. 

David Koch being interviewed moments after a deadly crash at LAX in 1991

Kock said God saved his life for a reason that day, and that made him want to give back to the community. 

“I was gagging very badly, I didn’t think I was going to make it. There was an instance I thought I was dead,” he added. 

He then decides to dedicate himself to philanthropy.  Koch donated an estimated $1.2 billion to charity, including cancer research and the arts.