EL CAJON, Calif. — All four people killed Monday in a small plane crash in East County San Diego have been identified as of Wednesday. Two pilots and two nurses were on board the flight headed to Gillespie Field airport in El Cajon after taking a medical patient to Orange County when it went down.
The first victim was identified as a nurse and the wife of a recently retired local fire chief in an Instagram post on Tuesday by The Oceanside Firefighters Association. The second victim was identified Wednesday as a nurse in a post by the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics. The two pilots were also identified Wednesday by the San Diego Medical Examiner's office.
The four victims of the plane crash have been identified as Julian Jorge Bugaj, Laurie Gentz, Douglas James Grande, and Tina Ward.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing. 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 family of Doug Grande, 42, released this statement and photograph.
“It is very difficult to find the words to describe such an incredible man. Doug had a heart of gold and brought joy and happiness to everyone he met. He was an exceptional husband, father, brother, son and friend. His world revolved around his wife and daughters. He absolutely loved his job as a pilot and found so much joy in helping patients in need. He was wise, thoughtful, funny, patient and kind. Doug will be missed beyond measure.” --The Grande Family
Julian Jorge Bugaj
A family member of one of the two pilots that died in the small plane crash in East County San Diego has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money in order to help the family with funeral expenses.
The family said Jorge, 67, was an aviation enthusiast for decades and worked his way into becoming a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), flying Learjets for Aeromedevac.
"Transporting everything from organs to patients all over the country for life saving procedures. He is truly a hero in what he did and loved every second of it."
The second victim was identified in the small plane crash in East County San Diego in a Facebook post by coworkers.
The post by the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics identified Laurie Gentz as one of the passengers on the flight that had crashed near Gillespie Field Monday evening with four on board.
In the post, the organization offered "sincere condolences for the devastating and sudden loss of Local 162 President Laurie Gentz, her fellow passengers and the Learjet flight crew" and featured a photo of Laurie with three other people.
The first victim was identified as a nurse and the wife of a recently retired local fire chief in an Instagram post on Tuesday by The Oceanside Firefighters Association. The post identified Tina Ward as one of the people on board when the aircraft went down. The post offered condolences to Tina's husband - recently retired Oceanside Fire Chief Joe Ward - and featured a photo of the couple.
Joe Ward set up a GoFundMe for the "Tina Ward Memorial Scholarship Fund" where people are asked in lieu of flowers or funeral donations to donate to the fund in her memory and that all funds donated will go directly toward scholarships for underrepresented students working on furthering their careers in EMS.
Tina's family shared pictures of her with News 8 (seen below) and her husband said she was a compassionate leader who loved her job and her family. Her passion also inspired their three children to follow in her footsteps. Two of Joe and Tina's daughters are becoming nurses and the third is becoming a doctor.
"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," the post by Oceanside Firefighters Association read in part.
The area where the plane crashed is a few miles east of Gillespie Field airport, where the plane was scheduled to land.
Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Santee and Lakeside stations immediately responded to the 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, officials said.
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 FAA released the following statement Tuesday morning:
"A Learjet 35 business jet crashed in a residential San Diego neighborhood around 7:15 p.m. local time Monday. Four people were aboard. The flight departed John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., and was headed to Gillespie Field Airport in San Diego. The FAA and NTSB will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide all updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents."
Pepper Drive was expected to remain closed between Topper Lane and North Second Street through Wednesday, officials said.
The crash took down an unknown amount of power lines. San Diego Gas & Electric reported outages affecting as many as 2,500 customers in the El Cajon area following the crash.
The American Red Cross provided assistance to residents who remain affected by the power outage, according to sheriff's officials.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has photos or videos from the scene was asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The crash comes less than three months after a small aircraft crashed into homes in another East County San Diego neighborhood killing two people and destroying two homes. The Oct. 11 plane crash in Santee claimed the lives of the pilot Dr. Sugata Das and a UPS driver who was struck on the ground Steve Krueger.
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