A plane crash in Yorba Linda, California, killed five people, including four who were in the home that the plane crashed into shortly after it took off. Witnesses told investigators that the aircraft appeared to break up as it plummeted to the ground, where it crashed into the house. Investigators are looking into what caused the crash, but the pilot's identity raised questions and initially caused some confusion. The Yorba Linda plane crash highlights how tragic such incidents are, not just for those on the plane but also for those in homes on the ground.
Cessna 414 Plane Broke Apart on its Descent
The plane crashed on Sunday, Feb. 3, at around 1:45 pm. The 1981 Cessna 414, piloted by Antonio Pastini, took off at 1:35 pm and flew approximately 10 miles up to around 7,800 feet before plunging out of the clouds to the ground below. Witnesses reported that the aircraft was in one piece when it began its descent, but the tail and wings broke off as it careened down. They also told investigators the plane was on fire before it crashed into the house.
Pastini was the only person on the plane; the other four victims were all in the home and died in the resulting fire. Officials identified the four victims on the ground as:
Roy Lee Anderson, 85
Dahlia Marlies Leber Anderson, 68
Donald Paul Elliot, 58
The four were at the Andersons' home preparing to watch the Super Bowl when tragedy struck. Two other people on the ground suffered moderate injuries and were taken to the UC Irvine Health Regional Burn Center.
We’re learning more this morning about the plane crash in Yorba Linda, California killing 5 people and injuring 2 others. Hard to believe, but the debris field covers four blocks in this neighborhood.— Morgan Chesky (@BreakingChesky) February 4, 2019
Our story for the @TODAYshow: pic.twitter.com/zQUq9Ab1qU
At least four homes in the Yorba Linda neighborhood were damaged by debris, including a nearby house that was hit by the Cessna's engine and propeller. Investigators said the debris covered approximately four blocks, which is consistent with the debris field created when an aircraft breaks apart while in flight, although much of the fuselage landed at the foot of an embankment near the crash site.
Witness: Yorba Linda Plane Crash "Sounded Like a Missile"
With many people in the neighborhood preparing for the Super Bowl, numerous witnesses saw or heard the plane crash. Shawn Winch said the plane sounded like a missile was coming toward his home and then he heard an explosion. He and several neighbors ran to the house to help but could not get in to rescue victims.
"Stuff was blowing up in the garage," Winch said. "It was pretty scary. It's something you never think would happen. … There was a lot of crying, a lot of screaming (in the neighborhood). There were also people trying to run … in to help, but it was too late."
Victims' Family Releases Statement about Plane Crash on Crestknoll Drive
Following the crash, the family of the four victims in the home released a statement thanking the first responders and neighbors who did what they could to assist. They also thanked their friends and family for their support.
"We are devastated by our loss of our family members who will be greatly missed," the statement reads. "Our family bond is tight and each member lost in this tragedy represents more than just one role within our family. We lost parents, grandparents, great-parents, spouses, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. The home lost was a beacon for so many family and friends where many celebrations were held."
The men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department extend our deepest condolences to the Anderson, Leber, and Elliott families. A statement from the families of the victims is below. pic.twitter.com/YzyJSw4SdF— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSheriff) February 7, 2019
A vigil for the victims was held on Feb. 7.
Mystery Surrounds Cessna 414 Pilot
Based on what officials believed was a Chicago Police Department badge and retirement papers found among the debris, authorities initially said Pastini was a retired police officer. The Chicago Police Department, however, reached out to investigators and informed them that the credentials appeared fake and they had no record of Pastini in their records. Although Pastini previously went by a different name—Jordan Isaacson—Chicago Police said that name was not in their records, either.
A Chicago Police badge with the same number as that found in Pastini's plane does exist but was reported lost in 1978.
According to the Orange County Register, in 2008 Pastini told a reporter for the Nevada Appeal that he spent 21 years with the Chicago Police Department before retiring to open restaurants. Officials do not know why Pastini had the apparently false credentials.
Pastini was in California visiting his daughter and granddaughter over the weekend. He reportedly bought the Cessna a year ago and had some work done on it, including having a new motor installed. Pastini's daughter, Julia Ackley, described him as an experienced pilot who had been flying for decades.
Investigators Looking into What Caused Super Bowl Sunday Plane Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what caused the aircraft to break up midflight. They will examine the plane's maintenance history, structural integrity and the weather to see if any of those might have been a factor in the crash. Authorities said the plane did not issue a distress call before it crashed and they are not sure whether Pastini tried to make an emergency landing.
Authorities ask anyone who witnessed the crash or has come across debris to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 714-647-7000.