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5 killed in Santa Ana plane crash identified as investigation into cause continues

5 killed in Santa Ana plane crash identified as investigation into cause continues
National Transportation Safety Board officials investigate the scene of a plane crash in Santa Ana near South Coast Plaza. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Four Contra Costa County residents and a Los Angeles man have been identified as the victims in the crash of a twin-engine plane that left five people dead in a Santa Ana shopping center on Sunday, officials said.

The Orange County coroner’s office on Monday identified the victims as Scott Shepherd, 53, of Diablo; Lara Shepherd, 42, of Diablo; Nasim Ghanadan, 29, of Alamo; Floria Hakimi, 62, of Danville; and Navid Hakimi, 32, of Los Angeles.

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Scott Shepherd, who was flying the Cessna 414, declared an emergency before the plane crashed in the parking lot of a Staples office supply store in the 3800 block of Bristol Street, near the South Coast Plaza mall, officials said.

The pilot did not specify what the emergency was, said Albert Nixon, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators have not determined what caused the crash.

Witnesses said they saw the plane turn before it suddenly began to dive toward the shopping center. Video taken by people on the ground and posted on social media shows a crumpled airplane with two broken sections and at least one body outside the aircraft.

The plane struck a red Chevrolet sedan that was parked in the shopping center and damaged three other vehicles, according to the NTSB. No one on the ground was injured.

Lara Shepherd, Floria Hakimi and Ghanadan were Realtors with Pacific Union International, the eighth-largest real estate brokerage firm in the country, according to the company’s website. Lara’s husband, Scott, was a real estate developer in the Bay Area, according to her profile on the Pacific Union website.

The Shepherds have two children, according to Lara’s profile on the real estate site.

Just before their flight to Los Angeles, Floria Hakimi had posted a photo of herself standing by the door to the airplane on her Instagram account.

“Flying out to L.A.,” she wrote.

Nearly 200 comments expressing their condolences were left on her account.

Hakimi, who was known to enjoy tennis and biking, was an advocate for human rights and supported organizations such as Mothers Against Poverty and Families Without Borders, according to her profile.

Pacific Union International, which is largely focused on the Bay Area and Northern California, began doing business in the Los Angeles area earlier this year.

FAA records show that the airplane was owned by Category III Aviation Corp., a real estate consulting firm in San Francisco, and was bound for John Wayne Airport, which is about a mile from the crash site. .

Category III Aviation did not respond to a request for comment.

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On Monday morning, NTSB investigators snapped photos of the wreckage strewn across the parking lot directly in front of the Staples store. Officials are expected to move the wreckage from the shopping center on Monday to continue their investigation.

Witnesses and fire officials said there was no explosion when the plane slammed into the ground.

“We looked up to see the plane falling nose first,” Ella Pham, 20, of Santa Ana, said Sunday. “We really didn’t think it was a plane at first due to no crashing noise, but as soon as we saw people running from across the street we went to go check it out.

“It was so heartbreaking just seeing the plane crumbled into pieces,” she said.

The lack of an explosion on impact has raised questions about whether the plane had run out of fuel. On Monday, NTSB officials said it was too early to tell and that they would look more into the crash.

6:24 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about Floria Hakimi.

12:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information from the National Transportation Safety Board.

6:10 a.m.: This article was updated with information on several of the victims.

This article was originally published at 5:55 a.m.

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