A tragic incident occurred in the city of Murrieta, Southern California, where a business jet crashed under low-visibility conditions, resulting in the loss of all six individuals on board.
This unfortunate event took place just four days after another small plane, a Cessna 172, crashed on July 4 in Murrieta, claiming the life of the pilot and causing injuries to three children aboard, as confirmed by officials from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
During Saturday’s crash, the Cessna jet was attempting its second landing approach at Murrieta’s French Valley Airport after abandoning the initial approach for reasons yet unknown. The accident occurred around 4:15 a.m., as reported by local and federal authorities.
The victims have been identified by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office as Alma Razick (51), Ibrahem Razick (46), Lindsey Gleiche (31), Manuel Vargas-Regalado (32), Riese Lenders (25), and Abigail Tellez-Vargas (33).
According to meteorologist Brandt Maxwell from the National Weather Service (NWS), just 20 minutes prior to the crash, an observation was made that low clouds had moved into the Murrieta area from the coast. The cloud deck stood at 300 feet, and visibility was measured at 3/4 mile. Maxwell stated that the clouds were considered “very low for aviation purposes.” It remains unclear if the pilots were aware of these conditions.
At precisely 4:15 a.m., the NWS published an observation indicating that visibility in the area had further decreased to 1/2 mile, according to Maxwell, who is an aviation specialist based in the nearby city of San Diego.
French Valley Airport, situated 1,348 feet above sea level, experiences reduced visibility when coastal clouds enter through a small pass between the Palomar Mountains in San Diego County and the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County, explained Maxwell.
Upon arrival at the scene, first responders discovered the aircraft fully engulfed in flames in a field, as stated in a news release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The Cessna C550 business jet had departed from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, with French Valley Airport as its intended destination, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
All six occupants of the plane were pronounced dead at the scene. The authorities have not released the identities of the victims.
Michael Morris, the owner of Prestige Worldwide Flights, LLC, the company to which the plane belonged, mentioned that there were two pilots on board, with one serving as a co-pilot. Morris stated that three of the individuals were close friends.
He described the pilots as diligent and highly trained, expressing his confusion over the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Morris refrained from disclosing the names of the deceased, as some of their family members were yet to be notified. He revealed that the crash left 11 children without parents.
Investigations into the incident are being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). NTSB investigators were expected to be present at the crash site on Saturday night.
The NTSB stated in a release that the investigation would involve requesting radar data, weather information, maintenance records, and the pilot’s medical records.
Regarding the July 4 crash, the pilot of the Cessna, identified as 39-year-old Jared Newman, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s department. Three minors were taken to a nearby hospital with varying degrees of injuries. The NTSB is also investigating that particular incident.