GLENDALE — A 40-year-old Glendale woman was killed Sunday when the small plane she was in crashed near Santa Paula Airport, but officials said the cause of her death hasn’t been determined pending toxicology reports.
Kristin Keppel was a passenger in the Cessna C-180, which had just departed from the airport when it crashed about 8:30 p.m. into a power line, then into the Santa Clara riverbed and burst into flames, officials said.
The pilot, James McCaughley Jr., 43, of Santa Paula, was also killed in the crash, officials said.
Federal Aviation Administration officials told the Los Angeles Times that the plane lost engine power before it crashed two miles south of the airport.
Calls to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, were not returned Tuesday.
Ventura County firefighters used extinguishers to douse the flames and quickly confirmed one fatality, department spokesman Bill Nash said. They used thermal imaging to discover the second body, he added.
Ventura County coroner’s officials were waiting for toxicology reports to determine how Keppel died, Investigator Shasta Gainer said. The reports would likely include information on the types of gases, such as carbon monoxide, Keppel may have inhaled, she said.
Coroners determined that McCaughley died of thermal injuries, with smoke and soot inhalation, Gainer said.
Officials said Keppel leased a guest house on a property on Bonita Drive, but a woman who answered the phone at the residence Tuesday declined to comment.
Friends expressed sadness on an online bulletin board over the pair’s death.
They described McCaughley, who was a stunt pilot, as a gentleman and showman. Other friends described Keppel as a sweetheart.