Yorba Linda plane crash: Residents were hosting Super Bowl party when plane crashed into home; pilot ID'd

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Pilot killed in Yorba Linda plane crash identified
Witnesses say the residents of a home set ablaze in the plane crash in Yorba Linda were hosting a Super Bowl party when the aircraft crashed.

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Witnesses say the residents of one of the homes set ablaze in the plane crash in Yorba Linda were hosting a Super Bowl party at the time of the fatal wreck.

The small plane lifted off from Fullerton Municipal Airport shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said the pilot flew the 1981 twin-engine Cessna 414A about 10 miles before he encountered some sort of midair issue. That's when the plane crashed into a Yorba Linda neighborhood.

Dashcam video: Plane bursts into flames midair before Yorba Linda crash

Dashcam video shows the moment a twin-engine Cessna 414A bursts into flames in midair before crashing into a Yorba Linda neighborhood.

Authorities said the aircraft climbed about 7,800 feet before making a sudden decline down. The Orange County Fire Authority said there were at least two active structure fires at the scene on Crestknoll Drive near Canyon Drive.

There was one home that suffered the most fire damage. Witnesses said when they ran outside, they saw that home immediately engulfed in flames.

In that home, four people were killed - two men and two women - and two others were hospitalized. The man flying the plane also died in the crash. At an afternoon press conference Monday, Orange County sheriff's officials identified the pilot as 75-year-old Antonio Pastini, a retired Chicago police officer from Gardnerville, Nevada.

MORE: 5 people killed after small plane crash ignites house fires in Yorba Linda

Officials said the coroner is in the process of identifying the four other deceased victims through DNA.

Witnesses said that's the home where the Super Bowl party was being held. Witnesses also said they saw people escaping that home, screaming for family members they couldn't find.

"Yorba Linda lost four very good people," said family friend Dan Ugalde Jr., who described the victims as a tight-knit family that gathered for the Super Bowl each year.

A witness' video shows the two-story home engulfed by a massive inferno as horrified neighbors look on and two explosions are heard.

In the footage, a piece of the plane's wreckage is burning in the street. A man is seen dousing it with water from a garden hose. Another man then uses a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

One neighbor, Tony Tomminelli, said he heard an explosion from up above.

A witness described seeing a small plane as it plunged from the sky and parts of its wreckage ignited a house fire in Yorba Linda on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.

"I walked outside and I look up and I just see debris flying everywhere. Part of a plane, which I guess eventually was the motor, flew down into the garage like a torpedo - just hit the garage and blew up," he said.

He ended up sliding down the hillside to try and help.

Another neighbor, Dave Elfver, described the incident as being unbelievably loud before hearing an explosion. He said he ran outside and saw part of an engine and propeller across the street.

Other debris from the aircraft was scattered on nearby rooftops. National Transportation Safety Board officials said the debris field was about four blocks long, and the fuselage went down a hill, into another house.

NTSB officials arrived at the scene Monday morning to continue the investigation.

According to NTSB investigator Maja Smith, many witnesses reported seeing the wings fall off before the crash happened. She said neighbors' videos and witness statements are helpful to the investigation.

"Because there are all these people around, all these witnesses, we are getting information that if the accident happened on the side of a hill, I wouldn't have because we wouldn't have any witnesses," she said.

Smith said NTSB investigators are still searching for the right wing of the plane and added that the wreckage is one of the largest debris fields she has investigated.

Dealing with the aftermath of the wreck has been emotional for some longtime residents.

"It's just so hard for everybody. I feel so sorry for these people," cried neighbor Catherine Paulson. "I mean, anything can happen. It could have hit any of these houses."

The NTSB plans to remove the wreckage by the end of the day. An initial report on the cause of the crash is expected in the next five to 10 days. It may take up to one year to get a full report into the cause of the deadly crash.

Nearby Glenknoll Elementary School was closed Monday to be used as a command post for the developing investigation.