A family member identified the four people that were killed when a plane crashed and caught fire after taking off from Corona Municipal Airport on Wednesday.
Eddie Rodriguez of La Mirada told KTLA on Thursday that he lost his brother Danny Rodriguez, sister-in-law Teresa and friend Paula Mitchell in the crash.
The plane’s owner, 85-year-old Joseph Zingali, was also on board and may have been at the controls although it is still unclear, Rodriguez said.
Authorities have yet identified the victims.
Danny Rodriguez served 27 years with the Los Angeles Police Department as a training officer, his brother said. He was an experienced pilot, comfortable in both fixed-wing aircraft and his own helicopter, according to Rodriquez.
“Well Danny himself … he was just a good guy,” Eddie Rodriguez said. “And he took care of me along with my wife when I had surgery a while back.”
Danny’s wife, Teresa, who also died in the crash, worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years, according to Rodriguez.
“Marvelous woman … was kind to people, even strangers,” he said.
Eddie Rodriguez said he was supposed to be the fourth person on that flight but couldn’t make it. Teresa’s friend Paula Mitchell, also a veteran postal worker, took his place.
“You can lose a loved one at any time,” he said. “Love your family. Love your friends because they can fall away in a second.”
Around noon Wednesday, the single-engine aircraft was departing the airport, located at 1900 Aviation Drive, when it crashed at the end of the runway, according to the Corona Fire Department. Its 80-gallon fuel tank spilled and a brush fire ignited.
Firefighters knocked down the flames and kept the burn area to a quarter-acre, then discovered all four of the plane’s occupants had died.
The airport is closed
3-4 occupants in the plane
Approximately 80 gallons of fuel
Extending into vegetation pic.twitter.com/rXMUHbz4K2
— Corona Fire Dept #CoronaFire (@CoronaFireDept) January 22, 2020