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Home / El Cajon

4 killed in plane crash leaving from OC identified as 2 pilots, 2 nurses

An investigation continued Tuesday into the crash of a small airplane that took off from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and slammed into a neighborhood near El Cajon, killing all four people aboard.

Multiple media reports indicated that the plane was operating as an air ambulance and that the victims were two pilots and two nurses.

The crash was reported at about 7:15 p.m. Monday near the 1200 block of Pepper Drive and North Mollison Avenue in the unincorporated Bostonia neighborhood.

The area is a few miles east of Gillespie Field airport, where the plane was scheduled to land.

There was no immediate word on what led to the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will be handling the investigation. According to the NTSB, the plane was a Learjet 35A business jet, which seats eight people.

The aircraft belonged to an El Cajon company called Aeromedevac Air Ambulance, and had flown a patient from Arizona to Orange County before attempting its return trip to Gillespie Field, CBS8 reported, citing multiple sources.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday identified two of the crash victims as Douglas James Grande, 45, and 67-year-old Julian Jorge Bugaj.

On Tuesday, the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics via its Facebook page identified a third victims as Local 162 President Laurie Gentz.

The union representing Oceanside firefighters reported that one of the victims was Tina Ward, a flight nurse and the wife of the department’s recently retired deputy chief, Joe Ward.

“It is with heavy hearts that the Oceanside Fire Department and their fire family would like to extend our deepest condolences to our recently retired Chief Ward, his family, and all family and friends of the Aeromedevac flight crew N880Z. Chief Ward’s wife Tina, was a flight nurse on board of the aircraft that crashed last night in El Cajon,” Oceanside Firefighters Association 3736 posted Tuesday night on Instagram. “We are shocked and saddened by this devastating news and are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department‘s Santee and Lakeside stations immediately responded to the crash scene along with the Lakeside Fire Protection District, the California Highway Patrol and the El Cajon Police Department.

One home was damaged, but no injuries were reported on the ground.

Witnesses on the ground told reporters that the crash occurred in very poor weather conditions, amid rain and thick fog.

Pepper Drive was expected to remain closed between Topper Lane and North Second Street through Wednesday, officials said.

The sheriff’s department tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office had cleared the crash site, and all road closures should be lifted by Wednesday evening.

The crash took down an unknown amount of power lines. San Diego Gas & Electric reported that seven customers in the El Cajon area were still without power Tuesday night, with power expected to be restored by 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The American Red Cross was providing assistance to residents who remain affected by the power outage, according to sheriff’s officials.

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