TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- A beloved veterinarian with a thriving practice in Torrance died tragically in a small plane that crashed in San Diego.
Dr. Mike Zareski was one of two passengers killed in the crash that ignited a home in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
Zareski was returning home from a veterinary conference with some friends when, his wife said, the aircraft suffered a catastrophic engine failure.
Saturday's fiery and fatal crash is devastating those at Western Veterinary Group, a popular South Bay vet clinic.
Known as Dr. Mike, friends and co-workers said it was his dedication to his patients and their owners that set him apart.
"He was an individual that needed to give and give and give, and he gave to his patients, who benefited, he gave to his clients, who benefit, he gave to his colleagues, who benefited, and all of his staff, who loved him dearly," shared friend Dr. Thomas Joseph Morrison.
The father of four was devoted to his family at home and at work. A South Bay native, his dream was to give back to the community where he grew up.
"Veterinary medicine was his passion. It was a way for him to give, and he started from the back of his truck, rolling around to whoever needed him anytime," Morrison added.
From his truck to a bustling practice, he was devoted to animals of all shapes and sizes. But it's the homeless felines his 4Ever Foundation helped rescue that held a special place in his heart.
"He had the most ambitious personality, which is why we are where we are today. So just to be able to carry that on for him is something that we're very determined to do," said co-worker and hospital director Jennifer Cruz.
Zareski's wife said she and loved ones plan on holding a celebration of life to honor the 46-year-old's memory and legacy.
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San Diego plane crash victim was beloved Torrance veterinarian