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5 Killed After Plane Crashes In California Parking Lot, Investigation Underway Now

A small twin-engine plane crashed in a shopping center parking lot in Orange County California on Sunday afternoon – all five passengers perished.

The Orange County Fire Authority confirmed that fire and rescue units were sent to the 3900 block of Bristol Street in the city of Santa Ana after a report of a plane down.

Footage and photos on social media showed the wreckage of a twin-engine Cessna aircraft.

The fire department later said the plane went down at around 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a shopping center. All five individuals that perished were aboard the plane and there were no fatalities on the ground. The crash took place in a Southern California parking lot of a Staples store and CVS pharmacy.

Faith Family America reported that the plane belonged to the San Fransisco-based real estate company Catagory II. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna 414, which is considered a safe and reliable small two-engine plane had declared an emergency and was granted permission to land at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport moments before the crash.

The OC Register reports:

“Four Bay Area residents and a Los Angeles man were identified Monday, Aug. 6 as the five who were killed when a plane crashed into a Santa Ana shopping center parking lot the day before.

The pilot was Scott Shepherd, 53, of Diablo, Ca., the Orange County coroner’s office said, and the passengers were: Lara Shepherd, 42, of Diablo; Floria Hakimi, 62, of Danville; Navid Hakimi, 32, of Los Angeles; Nasim Ghanadan, 29, of Alamo.

No one on the ground was killed in the Sunday, Aug. 5 crash that occurred in a center with a CVS and a Staples on Bristol Street near Sunflower Avenue and across the street from South Coast Plaza. The 1973 Cessna 414 was on approach to nearby John Wayne Airport when it went down shortly before 12:30 p.m.

The Cessna dove straight into an unoccupied red Chevy sedan, parked in front of the CVS. Firefighters said it was a “miracle” no one on the ground of the busy shopping center was injured.

The plane’s pilot made a distress call to John Wayne Airport’s air traffic control tower, Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said Monday.

Around 12:31 p.m. an air traffic controller directed the pilot of another aircraft to hunt for the downed plane.

“Go to South Coast Plaza. See if you can find that aircraft,” the air traffic controller says in a radio transmission recording.

Lara Shepherd, Hakimi and Ghanadan were all real estate agents with Pacific Union International, a spokesman said. The company operates largely in Northern California. In an Instagram post from early Sunday, Floria Hakimi shared a photo of herself boarding an aircraft.

Her biography on the Pacific Union website says that “Floria is a trusted counselor, skilled negotiator, and an expert facilitator for all aspects of residential real estate.” It added that she enjoyed biking, playing tennis and spending time with family and friends. She also was involved with community and charity organizations.

Ghanadan, a real estate consultant, had a background in economics and international relations and was known for her “honesty, tenacious work ethic, strong negotiation skills, and cheerful spirit,” her work profile says.

Lara Shepherd was married to Scott Shepherd, who was also a real estate in the Bay Area. They are survived by two children.

Navid Hakimi who was based out of Los Angeles was Floria Hakimi’s son, according to social-media posts.

Navid, who lists himself as a musician, posted a story on Instagram showing him sitting in a moving plane that appeared to be about to take off. He took a short video clip from inside showing him seated and the cockpit behind him.

The plane was registered to Category III Aviation Corp., a San Francisco company, and had flown from the East Bay suburb of Concord, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

It was heading for Atlantic Aviation, one of the airport’s fixed-base operators, to park. An FAA spokeswoman said the plane had reported an emergency but she did not elaborate.

Monday morning, federal officials were at the crash site, continuing their investigation. At a morning press conference, Albert Nixon, senior aviation accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the plane hit four cars in the parking lot, including a red Chevy sedan that took the brunt of the impact.

Nixon said that the pilot declared an emergency but did not say what that emergency was. He said that a preliminary report on the incident would likely be available next week.

“We’re here to gather the facts,” said Jack Vanover, another NTSB investigators. “We’ll be looking at all information regarding the pilot, airplane … environmental conditions.”

The investigators did not provide any information about the possible cause of the crash, citing the pending investigation. Authorities said the aircraft would likely be moved from its resting place Monday to a hangar, where it would be examined further.”

The FAA has now launched an investigation into the crash, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the probable cause of this tragedy.


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