WATSONVILLE – Authorities on Monday identified three people who died in a mid-air plane collision at a rural Santa Cruz County airport last week.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff-Coroner identified the victims as 75-year-old Carl Kruppa and 67-year-old Nannette Plett-Kruppa, both of Winton, and 32-year-old Stuart Camenson, of Santa Cruz.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
According to the agencies, a single-engine Cessna 152 occupied by one person and a Cessna 340 occupied by two people collided shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday at the Watsonville Municipal Airport.
“From preliminary information, it appears that one aircraft was in the traffic pattern, and another aircraft was coming in to land,” NTSB investigator Fabian Salazar said at a news conference Friday.
The airport has a common traffic advisory frequency pilots can use to “announce their actions, both coming and going,” said Salazar, adding “there is no requirement that I’m aware of that makes an individual have to use that common traffic advisory frequency.”
The Cessna 152 was registered to Monterey Bay Aviation Inc. and the Cessna 340 was registered to ALM Holding LLC, according to FAA records. United Flight Services, which is based at the airport, listed the Cessna 152 as available for rent on its website.
Witnesses reported seeing the two aircraft collide about 200 feet in the air. Franky Herrera, 26, of Watsonville, said the twin-engine plane banked hard and clipped the wing of the single-engine plane, causing the latter to spiral down and crash near the edge of the airport.
The other plane continued on but “it was struggling,” Herrera said, and he soon saw flames on the other side of the airport.
A final report on the crash could take two years to complete, according to the NTSB.