Authorities have identified the six California residents who died on Saturday when the small plane they were traveling in crashed after after taking off in Las Vegas.
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, Mina Kaji, told the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, that the Cessna C550 business jet took off from Harry Reid international airport at about 3.15am on Saturday. The plane crashed about an hour later at French Valley airport in Murrieta, California, about 80 miles (130km) south-east of Los Angeles. All those onboard were killed.
Riverside county sheriff-coroner Chad Bianco identified those who died as Lindsey Gleiche, 31, of Huntington Beach; Riese Lenders, 25, of Rancho Palos Verdes; Alma Razick, 51, of Temecula; Ibrahem Razick, 46, of Temecula; Abigail Tellez-Vargas, 33, of Murrieta; and Manuel Vargas-Regalado, 32, of Temecula.
The jet, which can seat up to 13 people, crashed about 500 feet (150 meters) short of the intended runway, said Elliott Simpson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
“Most of the airplane, with the exception of the tail, was consumed by fire,” Simpson told reporters at an afternoon briefing. Investigators were combing through a debris field about 200 feet (60 meters) long, he said.
It took firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the flames, which charred about an acre of vegetation at the edge of French Valley airport, said the Riverside county fire department.
All six people on board died at the scene, the Riverside county sheriff’s office said in a statement.
The plane, which had departed from Harry Reid international airport in Las Vegas for the 45-minute flight to Murietta, crashed during its second approach, the NTSB said. The pilot was cleared for a landing using only instruments because of limited visibility from the low cloud ceiling, Simpson said.
“The visibility and ceilings allowed for a landing, but it was right on the minimums” of the regulations set for that airport, he said. Investigators will review recordings between the pilot and air traffic control.
A preliminary report was expected in about two weeks, the NTSB said.
It was the second fatal crash in a week at the small county-owned airport in Murrieta, a city with about 112,000 residents. A man was killed and three people were injured on 4 July when a single-engine Cessna 172 crashed in a parking lot shortly after takeoff from French Valley.