Friend of couple killed in Big Bear plane crash talks about their 'beautiful' love story

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (KABC) -- A longtime friend of a couple who died in a plane crash near Big Bear said she never would have imagined something so tragic happening to them.

Debbie Payne said she'd known them for as long as they'd been together. The couple, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and a U.S. Army pilot, had documented their short anniversary trip to Big Bear.

On Friday, Brian White had proposed to Rebecca Joan Raymond on the tarmac and then they took photos inside the rented single-engine Cessna 172.

"She was probably the happiest she'd ever been that day because she was engaged and going to marry the man she loved," Payne said.

The next day, the couple took off from Big Bear Airport, but crashed shortly after leaving. Their downed aircraft and bodies weren't found until Sunday morning about 1 mile from the airport.

Jodi Miller, with the sheriff's department, said losing Raymond was tough, especially since she was sworn in less than a year ago in September.

"It absolutely is a loss to the department. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," she said.

The couple had met two years ago at a party, according to Payne, and they soon moved in together. They showed everyone their commitment to one another.

Payne said 28-year-old Raymond was beautiful inside and out as she shared text messages from Raymond that were sent just a few days ago. Payne's only comfort is knowing that the couple were happy in the hours before the crash.

"They're together. They're together forever. It's just hard to think I'm not going to see them again," she said.

The FAA and NTSB are helping the sheriff's department's aviation division determine the cause of the crash.
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