SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) – A 7-year-old girl, her mother and father along with two family friends died this weekend as their plane slammed into the ground.
The wreckage ignited into a fire ball, creating a 1-acre wildfire in South Lake Tahoe. The damage was so bad, the plane and victims were unrecognizable.
Frank Ruiz, an airport employee, was the last person to see them all alive and on the ground when they took off earlier that day from Chandler Airport in Fresno.
The single-engine plane belonged to Francisco Delamora, owner of JDM Transport trucking company near Fresno. His wife Lorena and his young daughter were also on board.
“I told him to be careful during takeoff because you fly into the mountains,” Ruiz said.
Delamora’s employees were shocked.
“Its really hard to know that he’s gone. There’s times we still wake up and think it’s just a dream, that he’s going to walk in that door and start being himself, goofy and stuff,” one said.
Delamora’s friends Harold and Kin Cardwell also lost their lives on that plane. Harold was the owner of a Fresno insurance company. But his coworkers say his family was everything to him.
“Harold and I had many talks about his family and that he loved (his wife) dearly and he loved his children,” one coworker said. “He was a very committed family man and I’m sure this is just a shock and a loss to everyone.”
Meanwhile, the crash is being investigated, but witnesses say they heard trouble in the air even before the crash.
“Some witness say they saw it attempt a turn then dip and then crashed, and on impact it burst into flames,” El Dorado Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Van Arnum said.
Investigators say the plane had just taken off from the South Lake Tahoe airport when it crashed.