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Angel Flight Crashes, Killing Pilot And Sacramento State Nursing Professor

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - A second deadly Angel Flight crash in Northern California since September.

The program gives free flights to those who need medical treatment. Three volunteers with the program have now died in two crashes in as many months.

A September crash in Palo Alto killed a pilot from Placerville, then last Thursday a crash in Redding killed pilot Dick Tak of El Dorado Hills and nurse Clay Abajian of Sacramento State.

Those who knew Abajian describe him as someone who was always willing to help.

Joshua LeTourneau, who worked with Abajian during his time at UC Davis, remembers when colleagues told him about his death.

"They said, make sure you tell him about Clay. I was like, 'Clay? Abajian? What happened to Clay?'" LeTourneau said.

Abajian was volunteering as a mission assistant with Angel Flight last Thursday. He and the volunteer pilot had landed at Redding airport, dropped off two passengers and were on their way back to Sacramento when the accident happened, killing the two.

"He was a great guy. I wouldn't want for that to happen to anyone but definitely not Clay," LeTourneau said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration incident report, the plane collided with terrain due to unknown circumstances.

LeTourneau said he understands why Abajian was on the plane volunteering as a mission assistant.

"If there was any kind of disaster that was going on, he would be the first person to get up and try to help those people out," he said.

LeTourneau added that Abajian won't be easily forgotten.

"Clay was loved. That's how we're going to remember him. He was loved."

CBS13 reached out to the president of Angel Flight West. He declined an interview, but says the organization is continuing to emphasize safety with its volunteers.

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