David C. Copley, heir to a newspaper family that for 78 years owned the Daily Breeze, died Tuesday night after a car crash in San Diego. He was 60.
Copley was the adopted grandson of Col. Ira Copley, who built a newspaper empire that stretched from California to Illinois. At the time the Breeze was sold in late 2006, David Copley was the company's CEO and president. Locally, Copley Press Inc. also owned The Beach Reporter and the Palos Verdes Peninsula News.
The gem of the empire was the San Diego Union-Tribune, which was a Pulitzer Prize in 2006.
Copley, 60, was driving his Aston Martin around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Eads Avenue and Silverado Street when he lost control and crashed into several parked cars, officials said.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department authorities said Copley struck multiple parked vehicles before coming to a stop. Crews performed CPR to Copley before transporting him to Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla, where a family friend confirmed his death.
Copley took over the company when his mother, Helen Copley, retired in 2004. She, in turn, had taken the reins from her husband, James Copley, Ira Copley's adopted son. David Copley was James Copley's adopted son.
Copley was named publisher of the U-T three years before his mother died in 2001. He sold the newspaper in 2009.
Copley had a heart transplant in 2005.
In 2004, Forbes magazine listed him as one of the wealthiest California residents with a fortune of $1.2 billion.
He was known to South Bay residents for his Christmas greetings, which appeared yearly on the front page of his newspapers.
"It's easy to be depressed by the annual buildup of things to assail and pray over," he wrote in his 2004 message. "Don't we learn anything with the passage of time? Can't we use all our experience to make the world a better place? In fact, I think we have learned some things and, as a species, we have improved the world. Sure, there has been a lot of 'one step forward and two steps back.' Real tragedies occur every day but so does real progress."