4 Victims Killed In San Diego County Plane Crash Identified


Plane crash

Photo: Getty Images

Local authorities have identified four people who perished in a fiery San Diego County plane crash earlier this week, per FOX 5 on Wednesday (December 29).

According to local agencies and organizations, the victims that died after a jet smashed into an El Cajon neighborhood Monday night (December 27) were:

  • Tina Ward
  • Laurie Gentz
  • Julian Jorge Bugaj, 67
  • Douglas James Grande, 45

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office says they used "special fingerprinting techniques" to identify Burgaj and Grande. Ward and Gentz's identities were "confirmed... by organizations linked to them," according to reporters.

Ward was a flight nurse and married to retired Oceanside Fire Deputy Chief Joseph Ward. The Oceanside Firefighters Association 3736 mourned her death in a Tuesday (December 28) Facebook post, saying:

"It is with heavy hearts that the Oceanside Fire Department and their fire family would like to extend our deepest condolences to our recently retired Chief Ward, his family, and all family and friends of the Aeromedevac flight crew N88OZ. Chief Ward’s wife Tina, was a flight nurse on board of the aircraft that crashed last night in El Cajon. We are shocked and saddened by this devastating news and are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Gentz was the local union president for the Massachusetts-based International Association of EMTs, according to a social media post from the organization:

"The IAEP extends sincere condolences for the devastating and sudden loss of Local 162 President Laurie Gentz, her fellow passengers and the Learjet flight crew early this morning. President Gentz will be greatly missed by all who knew her and all who benefit from her selfless contributions to organized labor in the Greater San Diego area."

Federal investigators say a Learjet 35A aircraft fell in the 1200 block of Pepper Drive, sparking a fire in the area. San Diego County Sheriff's deputies say the fire was later extinguished. Nobody was injured on the ground, and hundreds of San Diego Electric & Gas were without power for hours.

The plane departed John Wayne Airport in Orange County and was scheduled to land at Gillespie Field Airport, reports say. The aircraft crashed over a mile away from its destination, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.


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