San Diego

Owner of Home Destroyed by Plane Missed Death by 10 Minutes

A San Diego man believes the fact that he was not in the backyard of his home when a small plane crashed is a miracle.

Max Sansa left his Clairemont home for work at 4:13 p.m. Saturday.

At 4:25 p.m., a plane fell from the sky shortly after takeoff from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport.

The plane exploded into flames, killing two people and destroying the home.

The pilots were trying to land in a nearby schoolyard, however, the plane crashed through a fence and skidded into Sansa's yard on Chandler Drive. 

Sansa’s wife and 2-year-old daughter had left that morning to visit family in New York.

“If they weren't in New York, they would be here," Sansa said pointing to the living room. "It's gone. It's all burned."

His friend, Daniel, was staying with him. The two of them had done yard work in the backyard before the crash.

They had finished lunch and were deciding what to do next when Daniel's girlfriend came by.

“They were going to have a nap and Daniel lives in the room where the plane hit,” Sansa said. “But they decided to go to Point Loma for a walk. So that saved their lives.”

The brush with death still weighs on Sansa.

All that’s left of his backyard is an orange tree and part of a hammock.

“We have nothing left,” he said.

When asked what he’s going to do, Sansa suggests waiting a couple of years for the answer.

“I don't know. But I know I have to keep going,” he said.

The generosity of others is part of what keeps him going.

A neighbor stopped by to drop off clothes even during our interview.

“It just gives me hope,” he said.

Sansa says his wife and daughter get back this weekend. Until then he is staying with friends.

The plane, a 1995 Beechcraft Bonanza, was a six-seat single-engine airplane. It was registered to Altitude Aviation Inc., out of Hermosa Beach, California.

On Monday, one of the people killed in the crash was identified as Robert Stelling, 50, of South Hampton, New York. Stelling and his wife were visiting San Diego for a veterinary medicine conference.

Two other occupants of the plane — a man and a woman — walked away from the crash.

An online fundraising page has been set up in the name of Max Sansa. You can find it here. 

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