Friends and family gathered on an island at Santee Lakes to honor the memory of a Clairemont man who died last month in a plane crash outside of Las Vegas.
John McCarthy, 59, was one of two people killed when a small private plane crashed on Sept. 7 shortly after takeoff.
“It’s been bad. It took them 12 days to identify him,” said Linda McCarthy, John's McCarthy's wife.
Linda McCarthy said the days since then have grown a little better leading up to Saturday.
“Today is the celebration of the life of John McCarthy,” she announced.
Santee Lakes was one of John McCarthy’s favorite places to fish and spend time with their grandson, Caswell.
“They were buddies. They were wicked buddies,” Linda McCarthy said.
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.
The plane called the control tower requesting to turn around and land because an airplane door had opened midair, an audio recording revealed.
The plane later crashed and caught fire in a desert area. Two other passengers were injured, and a third person on the ground was injured trying to rescue the passengers.
“I miss him and love him and want him back, but that’s not going to happen,” Linda McCarthy said. “I have his ring, and I have his necklace. So, I’m good with that.”
John McCarthy worked as the director of maintenance at the California Flight Academy in El Cajon.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it is still investigating and a spokesman said they may not know the cause of the crash for at least a year.