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A UPS driver killed in a plane crash in California gave a “happy laugh”;  newlyweds lost their homes, report says


Colleagues observed a minute of silence on Tuesday for the UPS driver who was one of two people killed when a small plane crashed Monday in a suburb of southern California.

Steve Krueger “was held in high regard and will be sorely missed,” UPS said in a statement Tuesday.

“Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his work, and his positive attitude and cheerful laughter made the tough days a little lighter,” the company said.

Krueger was “a few months away from retirement,” KNSD-TV reported. Colleagues left notes, flowers, candles and photos on Krueger’s car on Tuesday, the outlet reported. One photo showed Krueger waterskiing in his UPS uniform holding a package.

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Monday’s accident shook the community of Santee, a town about 20 miles northeast of San Diego. The twin-engine Cessna 340 struck homes and vehicles, causing extensive damage, officials said. A federal transportation safety investigator was due to arrive at the site on Tuesday.

The plane belonged to Dr Sugata Das, who was also killed, according to a statement by Bharat Magu, the chief medical officer of the Yuma regional medical center.

A burned-out truck sits at the scene of a plane crash in a neighborhood on Monday, October 11, 2021, in Santee, California.

“Our community has lost an exceptional physician, colleague and friend, a man who has dedicated his life and career to caring for patients,” Magu said in a statement. “Dr. Das was an exceptional cardiologist and a dedicated family man.”

Two other people were hospitalized with burns, Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita said. Video showed neighbors helping a couple escape through a window and the back fence of their home as flames engulfed the structure.

Another video, filmed by the security camera of a neighboring house, shows the plane falling in the neighborhood just before it crashed. Three houses in the neighborhood suffered “major damage” and two were burnt down, Fire Chief John Garlow told USA TODAY.

Among those who lost their homes were newlywed couple Courtney and Cody Campbell, KGTV reported. The couple were at work at the time of the accident and lost all of their belongings, Breana King, a sister of one of the owners, told KGTV. The couple had also just finished renovating the house, she said.

Authorities did not say what caused the crash. The plane was about half a mile from landing at the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport when an air traffic controller told the pilot he was flying too low and had to climb.

“Low altitude alert, get on immediately, get on the plane,” the air traffic controller said in audio obtained by KSWB-TV.

A UPS driver killed in a plane crash in California gave a “happy laugh”;  newlyweds lost their homes, report says

Dr Sugata Das

Das grew up in India, according to a website from the nonprofit Power of Love foundation, of which he was a director. The organization describes itself as a “charitable organization focused on developing innovative and cost-effective solutions to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic”.

Das worked as a cardiologist for 15 years, according to the hospital statement. He did his residency at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, trained at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, and was a researcher in interventional cardiology at the Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix.

Das joined the medical staff at Yuma Regional Medical Center in 2005 after completing training as an interventional cardiologist, the statement said. He lived in San Diego and commuted to Yuma.

Das, a licensed pilot, became interested in aviation in 2010 and owned two planes, according to the website. He leaves behind two young sons.

Contribution: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Plane crash in Santee, Calif.: UPS driver, doctor identified as victim