Authorities on Monday identified the pilot whose plane crashed into a Yorba Linda home, killing four people inside over the weekend, as 75-year-old Antonio Pastini.
Julia Ackley, a Torrance resident and one of Pastini's daughters, said in a brief interview with The Times that her father was a veteran pilot who regularly flew from Southern California to visit her family from Nevada, where he was a successful restaurant and business owner. Battling back tears as she comforted her child, she said the family is overcome with grief.
Investigators with the National Transportation and Safety Board said Pastini, who was also killed in the crash, was a retired Chicago police officer.
According to records, he previously owned a restaurant, Kim Lee’s Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, in Gardnerville, Nev., south of Carson City. Officials are gathering information about Pastini’s flight experience, medical records and plane maintenance schedules, but records show he carried a commercial pilot’s license.
The names of two women and two men who were in the home on Crestknoll Drive where Pastini’s plane erupted have not been identified. Authorities said the bodies are badly burned, so DNA testing and dental records will be requested to identify the victims.
On Monday morning, NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration investigators continued examining the scene, collecting pieces of aircraft scattered across four blocks in the residential neighborhood to transport to a Phoenix storage facility, where they will be examined.
So far, investigators know the plane took off from Fullerton Municipal Airport around 1:35 p.m., made a left turn and flew for about 10 miles, reaching an altitude as high as 7,800 feet. By 1:45 p.m., the plane had crashed into a house, engulfing it in flames.
Witnesses saw the plane, still in one piece, coming through the clouds, said Maja Smith, an NTSB investigator. Then the plane’s tail came off, followed by its wings. It plummeted rapidly.
In addition to the burned-out house, the crash damaged surrounding homes significantly. At one residence, a piece of the plane’s engine knocked down a pillar on the front porch and torpedoed through a first-floor window, flying through two rooms before landing in a bathroom. Fragments of exhaust pipe crashed through a second-floor window of the home and melted into the carpet. A propeller thumped onto the driveway.
Joshua Nelson, 28, said he was about to take a nap when he heard a shrill whistling sound and a loud bang outside his home. He hopped out of bed, ran out the front door and saw a plume of black smoke.
He saw a propeller had landed in front of a home, smashing windows. The main cabin of the plane landed in a ravine behind another house.
“The challenge will be collecting all the pieces” to bolster the investigation, Smith said. Debris from the crash is littered among as many as 16 homes, she said.
Residents spilled out of their houses Sunday in the quiet neighborhood to take in the collateral destruction around them.
In a video shot by Nelson, the burning home could be heard crackling and popping. A man several doors away from the flames was hosing down a piece of aircraft that was on fire. “Get away! Get away from the house!” a man shouted at residents.
Two people suffered moderate burns, and a firefighter suffered a minor ankle injury in the aftermath.
NTSB officials have asked witnesses to come forward and provide any video footage of the scene. Smith said that so far she has seen only two videos on the internet.