UPDATE: A second victim alongside Tina Ward was named in the San Diego plane crash, revealed by the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics. According to the medical group, Laurie Gentz was identified by her colleagues as the second flight nurse aboard the fatal plane. She had also served as the group’s local union president.
“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 early this morning,” the group wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
Tina Ward, a flight nurse taking a patient from Arizona to California, was identified as one of the four San Diego plane crash victims who tragically lost their lives Monday evening.
Returning to home base at Gillespie Field, the El Cajon jet carrying two pilots and two flight nurses mysteriously crashed in San Diego, killing Tina Ward and the three other unnamed members of the flight crew.
It is unknown what happed to cause the plane crash, but authorities believe that it may have been due to inclement weather. The investigation is still ongoing, as emergency first-responders help clear the debris and identify the other three San Diego plane crash victims.
Flight nurse Tina Ward was later identified as the wife of retired Oceanside Fire Chief Joe Ward through a tribute shared on Instagram by the department’s union. Posting a photo of the couple, the fire station offered their condolences to their fallen friend and the other victims of the horrific plane crash.
“It is with heavy hearts that the Oceanside Firefighters Association Local 3736 fire family would like to extend our deepest condolences to our recently retired Chief Ward, his family and all family and friends of the members lost during this tragic event,” the Oceanside Firefighters Association said. “We are shocked and saddened by this devastating news and are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. #OFDSTRONG”
Amazingly, authorities revealed that no one on the ground was hurt when the plane crashed into the San Diego neighborhood late Monday night, though one home was damaged. Debris from the crash also knocked out power lines, cutting electricity for over 2,500 San Diego citizens in the neighborhood.
The fire station was able to respond quickly since it was just one mile away from the crash site, where the firefighters swiftly put out the towering flames.
“When firefighters arrived at the scene there was significant rain occurring and there was a large debris field that stretched about 200 feet,” Lakeside Fire Protection District Chief Don Butz told CNN. A vehicle nearby was also damaged but luckily no one was inside.
In conversation with the control tower minutes before the fateful fall, the pilots allegedly asked for the runway lights to be lit brighter and were told that they were already at full brightness.
A thick fog covered the area with clouds Monday night, with many experts speculating that the pilot likely found himself in sudden, sight-obscuring weather.
Soon after asking the control tower for a visual approach to another runway, the pilot was heard yelling “Oh, s**t! Oh **t!” before plunging into the San Diego neighborhood of El Cajon. The plane was just 1.5 miles away from the runway at Gillespie Field.
Robert Katz, a local commercial airline pilot and flight instructor, spoke with CBS News and said that “it was raining really bad when he went down,” adding that, “it is possible that this pilot found himself back in the clouds, very low to the ground, in a steep turn and became instantly disoriented.”
The crash took place just two months after another terrifying accident occurred in the neighborhood of Santee, Ca., roughly 20 miles northeast of San Diego. Video of the crash captured the plane’s scary descent, resulting in the deaths of two people: pilot Sugata Das and an unnamed UPS employee whose truck was engulfed in flames.
The focus of the investigation, now taken over by The National Transportation Safety Board, lies in recovering the cockpits voice recorder to determine if transcripts will reveal a potential cause of crash.