The San Diego County medical examiner's office said Wednesday that Corona del Mar residents Dr. John Longhurst, 70, and Cherril Longhurst, 71, were killed Tuesday when their single-engine plane crashed shortly after taking off from Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
John Longhurst was a retired UC Irvine professor who had chaired the university's Department of Medicine.
The couple were married for 48 years and had three children, according to UCI.
John Longhurst, a cardiologist who specialized in cardiovascular disease and prevention, was hired at the university in 1998 as a professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine, the largest group of physicians in UCI's School of Medicine.
In 2003, he became director of UC Irvine Health's Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine in Costa Mesa. He retired in 2015, officials said.
"His work helped deepen the understanding of acupuncture as a clinical tool to help lower blood pressure and treat hypertension," Dr. Michael Stamos, dean of the School of Medicine, said in a statement Wednesday. "His contributions to UC Irvine and the medical community are immense, and he and Cherril will be profoundly missed."
John Longhurst also was a licensed private pilot, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the couple's Cessna 182 Skylane circled back shortly after taking off at 7 a.m. Tuesday but crashed into a storage yard at Tower Glass on Pathway Street in Santee, a suburb of San Diego.
The couple's two dogs onboard were injured and one later died, according to the report.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.