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4 Killed When Plane Crashed Into Neighborhood Near El Cajon, Two Victims Identified

EL CAJON (CBSLA) — Federal investigators continued sifting through the wreckage Wednesday of a business jet that departed Orange County and slammed into a residential neighborhood near El Cajon, while the second of four people who died in the crash was identified.

El Cajon Plane Crash
(credit: SIDEO.TV)

Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Santee and Lakeside stations responded to the crash that was reported around 7:15 p.m. Monday near the 1200 block of Pepper Drive and North Mollison Avenue in the unincorporated Bostonia neighborhood.

The plane was scheduled to land at Gillespie Field airport, a few miles east of the crash site.

One home was damaged, but no injuries were reported on the ground, officials said. All four of the plane's occupants were killed in the crash.

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

The IAEP "extends sincere condolences for the devastating and sudden loss of Local 162 President Laurie Gentz, her fellow passengers and the Learjet flight crew ...," the post stated. "President Gentz will be greatly missed by all who knew her and all who benefit from her selfless contributions to organized labor in the Greater San Diego area." the IAEP wrote on the Facebook page.

The union representing Oceanside firefighters, meanwhile, 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 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."

A fire erupted following the crash but was reported to be out as of 8:57 p.m.

The crash also took down an unknown amount of power line leaving 350 customers in the El Cajon area without power. By midday Tuesday, SDG&E crews were still on standby, waiting for clearance to access the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were handling the investigation.

The NTSB said the plane was a Learjet 35A business jet.

Rick Breitenfeldt, an FAA spokesperson, said the aircraft departed from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana with four people on board.

"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," Breitenfeldt said.

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

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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