California Learjet Crash: All Four Victims Identified

by Michael Freeman

A few days ago, a Learjet 35A tragically crashed in California, killing four people on board. Though only two victims could be identified initially, we now know the identities of all four of them.

Daily Mail shared information about the medical plane crash victims in California. According to the outlet, two of them were pilots and two were flight nurses. Professional associations identified the nurses earlier this week as Tina Ward and Laurie Gentz. The San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office used “special fingerprinting techniques” to identify the pilots. 67-year-old Julian Jorge Bugaj and 45-year-old Douglas James Grande were the two pilots flying the plane.

However, despite the Medical Examiner’s Office identifying Ward and Gentz, it will not formally name them as victims yet. The reason behind that is the office needs more time to confirm the information. The office states it can identify one victim through dental records by the end of the week. The other requires DNA testing and that could actually take several months.

Aeromedevac Air Ambulance is the company that operated the Learjet 35A and released a statement about the tragedy on their website. “It is with great sadness that we must share the devastating loss of our colleagues at Aeromedevac Air Ambulance on December 27, 2021. The loss of our friends has left us an indescribable void. To both us and their families they are unsung heroes, dedicating their lives to caring for others in need throughout our community.”

Further, they state their priority is supporting the victims’ families. “We are honored and blessed to have worked with the crew members that we have lost, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families,” the company wrote.

What Happened with the Learjet?

Though news of the Learjet 35A crash surfaced quickly after it hit a power line, the specifics of how it occurred weren’t immediately known.

AV Web provided details, saying the tragedy occurred while it executed an overhead visual approach. One pilot canceled his Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) clearance after flying a GPS instrument approach to the runway. Recordings revealed the pilot then requested a visual approach to a separate runway which was 1,200 feet longer. The tower controller informed him to cross over the airport to the south and enter a left downwind. After that, the tower cleared the Learjet.

Unfortunately, all was not well and a little over a minute later, the pilot can be heard screaming expletives. The plane then came down on a street in a residential area and exploded into flames after it hit a power line. The jet was returning from transporting a patient and everyone on board died. Fortunately, the crash didn’t injure or kill anyone ground side.