Pilot Killed in San Gabriel Mountains Crash Identified as San Diego Man

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Authorities Tuesday identified the pilot killed in a crash along the side of Brown Mountain in an area above Altadena as a San Diego man.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office confirmed the pilot was Thomas Christopher Bruff, 57. He was the only person found at the crash site Sunday.

Thomas Christopher Bruff is shown in a photo obtained by KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.
Thomas Christopher Bruff is shown in a photo obtained by KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.

The discovery of the downed aircraft was announced by authorities shortly before 4:30 p.m., as sheriff’s search and rescue teams and an air unit responded to the scene.

A Cessna 182, N133BW, had been reported missing, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in an email Sunday morning.

The plane was traveling from Montgomery Field in San Diego to Santa Monica Municipal Airport when it lost contact about 17 miles east of Van Nuys.

Radar data from Flightaware.com showed that the plane departed at 7:37 a.m. Sunday from Montgomery Field in San Diego, reported KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego. 

About 9 a.m., the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau received a report of a possible downed aircraft near Mount Wilson, in the Angeles National Forest, authorities said in a statement.

Three hours into the operation, hampered by steep terrain and low visibility due to fog, officials were unable to confirm whether the aircraft had gone down. Bruff’s body was eventually recovered.

The incident was being jointly investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, FAA and sheriff’s Aero Bureau.

KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this report.

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