Friends of a North County man killed in a cargo plane crash Saturday in southeast Texas say the victim was a genuine man who was about to start living his dream with a big-name airline.
Sean Archuletta, 36, and two other passengers of the cargo plane were killed when it crashed in Trinity Bay in Anahuac about 35 miles east of Houston.
The Boeing 767’s owner, Atlas Air, said it was operating the flight for Amazon.
Archuletta was a graduate of Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista and had been a captain with Mesa Airlines since 2013. He was in the plane’s jump seat, an extra seat on board often occupied by industry passengers catching a ride to the plane’s destination.
The plane departed from Miami and was minutes away from landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
His friends say he was about to start a job with a major airline.
“I was shocked for such a good person to leave this earth,” friend Chelsea Rosene said. “My heart breaks for his wife and his kids.”
Rosene said she and Archuletta became best friends in high school.
“It's hard to understand why someone like that would be taken from us,” she said.
She’s sad to see Archuletta gone, but appreciative of his always positive attitude and the good times they shared.
“Thank you so much for always making me laugh and for just being a good friend,” she said.
Sadness over Archuletta's death stretched far beyond San Diego County. North Carolina resident Amanda Couture told NBC 7 via text message how genuine he was, calling him friendly, professional, knowledgeable and patient. Online, she raved about him being her husband's best flight instructor in San Diego.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Archuletta’s wife and children.
In a statement, Mesa Airlines CEO said:
"Our thoughts are with Sean's family, the families of the two Atlas Air pilots, and the whole atlas air organization. This is a loss for all of aviation."
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said security video from a jail about a mile away from the crash site showed the plane heading toward the ground nose first. Sumwalt added that air traffic controllers reported rain in the area, and that the plane did not send out a distress call before the wreck.
Sumwalt said that finding the flight recorders remains a high priority for searchers.
The jumbo jet had departed from Miami and was likely moments from landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when it crashed.