An El Cajon man has been identified as the second victim who died in the crash of a small private plane in Nevada.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the family of 59-year-old John McCarthy confirmed Saturday that he died in the Sept. 7 crash near Henderson Executive Airport.
The single-engine, Beechcraft Sierra propeller plane took off from the Henderson airport in Nevada headed for Gillespie Field Airport in El Cajon, but decided to turn around soon after take-off due to mechanical issues, according to the Henderson Fire Department.
Two people were killed and three others were injured when the small private plane crashed and caught fire in a desert area. A bystander who ran to the scene suffered smoke inhalation-related injuries.
The Clark County coroner's office has identified one victim, saying 48-year-old Lorenzo Harris of California died of thermal and blunt force injuries.
According to his family, McCarthy's body was badly burned in the crash and that's probably why the coroner's office hasn't positively identified him yet.
McCarthy worked as the director of maintenance at the California Flight Academy in El Cajon.
Audio recording from Henderson's air traffic control tower revealed a plane registered as 24030, specifically an MC-487 Beech C24R, was cleared for takeoff.
A few minutes later, the plane called the control tower requesting to land because an airplane door had opened midair. They were cleared for landing by the air traffic control operator.
In the audio recording, they were not heard from again.
“From a physical aerodynamic standpoint, the door actually opening up in the aircraft should not cause enough of a disruption of air flow around the aircraft where it would necessarily cause the aircraft to stop flying or cause it to be aerodynamically unstable,” said Gary Buzel, a local commercial pilot instructor.
Added Buzel, “It's more of a distracting element to the pilot and crew on the aircraft. It’s not a very good scenario to be distracted when you’re flying the aircraft.”
The plane was registered to SoCal Leasing, LLC based at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. SoCal Leasing is further tied to Fly CFA, LLC also known as California Flight Academy. The plane may also be connected to California Wings of El Cajon.
California Flight Academy said in a statement it was "heartbroken over the news of our colleagues and friends."
"Our hearts and prayers are with the families of those involved in this tragic accident," the statement continued.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the cause of the crash, which FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said could take over a year to finish.