The pilot, Dr. Sugata Das, was headed from Yuma, Arizona to San Diego’s Montgomery-Gibb Executive Airport. Also killed in the crash was a UPS truck driver, Steve Krueger, who happened to be in the neighborhood at the time.
After the plane hit her home, dramatic video footage shows, neighbors pulled a woman to safety out of the window of the house, Fox News reports. The woman’s husband also made it out of the house, which was engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke. The two reunited after their respective escapes. The house itself was destroyed.
UPS Truck Driver Was Months from Retirement
In a statement, UPS mourned the loss of Krueger and said he “was held in high regard and will be greatly missed.”
“Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his work, and his positive attitude and joyful laugh made the hardest days a little lighter,” UPS added.
Krueger was reportedly just a few months shy of retirement. On Tuesday, the California driver’s co-workers left notes, photos, flowers and candles on his car. Among the mementos was a photo of Krueger water-skiing – and brandishing a package – while wearing his UPS uniform.
Two people were taken to local hospitals after the crash, CBS reports. Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita declined to comment on the severity of their wounds.
NTSB Is Investigating California Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into what caused the crash. According to audio obtained by Southern California’s KUSI News, an air traffic controller had tried to contact Das. The controller repeatedly told him that his plane was wandering off course before the crash.
“It looks like you are drifting off course. Are you correcting?” the air traffic controller said. Then: “Low altitude alert. Climb immediately. Climb the airplane. Maintain 5,000. Expedite the climb. Climb the airplane please.”
As the air traffic controller told the pilot to return to 5,000 feet above ground, the plane descended to 1,500 feet, then lower still.
“You appear to be descending again, sir,” the air traffic controller warned. But it appeared to be too late.
Second Home Destroyed in Crash Belonged to Newlyweds
The second home destroyed belonged to Cody and Courtney Campbell, newlyweds who work in California’s hospitality industry. Luckily for the couple, they were at work at the time of the crash, and Courtney’s mother had just stopped by to pick up their dog, Mister, shortly before the crash happened, per NBC New York.
The couple bought the home roughly five months ago. They are still waiting to hear from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when they can return to their property to pick through the rubble of their house.
Among the items they’re looking to find is Cody’s wedding band. He left it at home on Monday, and now they’re hoping it’s somewhere amid the charred debris.
In the meantime, the Campbells are staying with family. And friends of the couple have set up a GoFundMe to help pay for temporary housing.