YORBA LINDA (CBSLA) — Four people who were killed when a small plane smashed into a Yorba Linda home over the weekend were identified Wednesday.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified the victims as Roy Lee Anderson, 85, of Yorba Linda; Dahlia Marlies Leber Anderson, 68, of Yorba Linda; Donald Paul Elliott, 58, of Norco; and Stacie Norene Leber, 48, of Corona.
The sheriff’s department tweeted a statement from the victims’ families.
“We are devastated by our loss of our family members who will be greatly missed. Our family bond is tight and each member lost in this tragedy represents more than just one role within our family,” the statement reads. “We lost parents, grandparents, great-[grand]parents, spouses, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles. The home lost was a beacon for so many family and friends where many celebrations were held.”
A candlelight vigil in honor of the victims is planned for Thursday night at Glenknoll Elementary School.
Neighbors who knew the tight-knit family well were still trying to make sense of the unimaginable tragedy.
“You’re just sitting in your home, you don’t figure something like that’s gonna happen,” neighbor Gene Holdt said. “It could’ve been me, it could’ve been my neighbors, it could’ve been anybody here.”
At 1:45 p.m. Sunday, just 10 minutes after taking off from Fullerton Municipal Airport, Antonio Pastini’s twin-engine Cessna exploded in midair and broke apart, with a portion of the plane slamming into and destroying a home in the 19000 block of Crestknoll Drive.
The 75-year-old pilot, the sole occupant of the plane, died along with the family inside the home who was preparing for a Super Bowl party. Leber Anderson was at home with her husband Anderson, her daughter-in-law Leber and Anderson’s son-in-law Elliott.
Along with the five victims, two more people were badly burned.
Several other nearby homes also caught fire. The crash left debris over a four-block radius.
Cell phone video captured the chaos that ensued, with flames and smoke billowing hundreds of feet in the air as one man using a garden hose to put out fire on part of the wing. The cabin of the plane landed in a ravine near an adjacent home.
Nancy Mehl, who live a few doors down from the home that was struck, told CBS2 that a piece of the engine and shrapnel tore through her own home, shattering windows, cutting through dry wall and landing in her bathroom – missing her by just feet.
“I could hear just the worst screaming of the engine, like a super whine,” Mehl said. “Just really, really high pitched – louder than anything I’ve ever heard.”
Pastini’s daughter Julia Ackley told CBS2 Monday that her father flew in often from Nevada to Fullerton to visit his family. She described him as a veteran pilot who volunteered for Angel Flight, which provides medical transportation for those in need. She said he leaves behind a wife, three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
It was initially reported that Pastini was a Chicago police officer. A police badge and retirement papers had been found following the crash.
In a news conference Monday, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Cory Martino said Pastini was a retired Chicago officer. However, on Tuesday, sheriff’s officials confirmed to CBS2 that the badge and papers were fake.
The cause of the crash remains unknown. It can take several months for the National Transportation Safety Board to complete its investigation.
A preliminary crash report is expected to be available in 10-14 days.