A Sierra Leonean pilot, Mustapha Sesay and two Americans were, killed in a plane crash near Los Angeles, California in the United States at about 11p.m. past Wednesday.
Sesay, 38, was an American citizen living in Ladera Ranch, California. The two other victims were identified as Jorge Quinones and Rajesh Vashdev.
Relatives of the victims gathered near the crash site Wednesday night, and spoke about the loved ones they lost.
“He always tried to get me to fly with him, but I was too afraid,” said Muzae Sesay, brother of Mustapha Sesay.
Muzae said Mustapha was an experienced pilot and flight instructor who had a passion for flying.
“It was his dream to fly and be a pilot,” Muzae said.
Mustapha’s father doesn’t know who was piloting the plane before it went down.
“When we saw the crash I automatically called him, just like any other small plane crash, I always called him,” said Amid Sesay, Mustapha’s father.
American investigators are trying to piece together what happened up until the crash.
The Beechcraft Bonanza G36 crashed into the parking lot in between some buildings just 200 yards south of the runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the three men onboard were pilots participating in touch-and-go exercises out of Hawthorne Airport, and according to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was taking off and landing there.
The FAA said it wasn’t known whether the plane was taking off or landing when it crashed.
Although the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, witnesses said they had seen smoke coming out of the plane.
“We have multiple witnesses and so consequently, we get multiple responses, but there was report of smoke coming from the engine,” said NTSB investigator Patrick Jones. “The aircraft turned away from the runway and they lost sight of it until the crash”
Authorities said the plane crashed nose first into a parking lot at the Vought Aircraft Industries facility.
“The airplane came to a stop within the parking lot, not injuring any of the employees at the plant,” said Inspector Frank Garrido, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The nose of the plane was destroyed, the tail section was bent to one side, and fuel spilled across the ground.
Wreckage was found on a roof nearby, which may suggest the plane hit a building, but investigators are still unsure what happened.
The plane was registered to a company called Carpet Pros Inc. of Lawndale.