WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KRON) — Three people who were killed after their planes collided mid-air above Watsonville Municipal Airport last week were identified by a sheriff’s coroner on Monday.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office identified the plane crash victims as: Stuart Camenson, 32, of Santa Cruz; Carl Kruppa, 75, Winton, Calif.; and Nannette Plett-Kruppa, 67, of Winton, Calif.
Two pilots were attempting to land small private planes at the airport when the mid-air collision occurred just before 3 p.m. August 18, investigators said. A twin-engine Cessna 340 crash-landed into an airport hangar, and a single-engine Cessna 152 plummeted into a grassy field.
“First responders arrived and found that all three individuals involved in the crash were deceased,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ashley Keehn wrote. “Our deepest condolences are with the families of those involved.”
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
Watsonville’s airport in south Santa Cruz County is an “uncontrolled airport,” meaning, it does not have an air traffic control tower, NTSB investigator Fabian Salazar said. For takeoffs and landings, pilots are not required to communicate with each other over the radio using a common traffic advisory frequency, he said.
According to recorded radio traffic, it appears pilots were talking to each other in the minutes and seconds leading up to the mid-air tragedy. One pilot can be heard saying, “Yeah, I see you’re, uh, you’re behind me. Gonna go around then ‘cuz you’re coming at me pretty quick, man.”
Just 15 seconds later, the planes collided mid-air and fiery debris fell from the sky.
Immediately after the crash, another voice on the radio says, “The twin Cessna was on a long final approach and somebody else was on base turning final … the final approach. The twin engine Cessna didn’t see him and, uh, he crashed into the twin.”
No one on the ground was injured.