San Diego

Pilot in Clairemont Plane Crash Had Flown Most of His Life

The home that a small plane crash into in Clairemont was still lined with police tape nearly a week after the crash

clairemont plane crash pilot josh reikes
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The man piloting a small aircraft that suffered engine failure shortly after takeoff, crash-landing into a Clairemont home and killing two people, has been identified to NBC 7. 

Josh Reikes has been flying for most of his life, most recently for Sun Country Airlines, according to his LinkedIn page. 

Reikes was flying a six-seat single-engine 1995 Beechcraft Bonanza from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego Saturday when something went wrong. 

Reikes attempted to land the plane in a school's yard near Chandler Drive in Clairemont, but the plane crashed four minutes after takeoff, skidding through the school yard's fence and into a nearby home. 

The home and the plane went up in flames.  

Dr. Mike Zareski and Robert Sterling were killed instantly. Reikes and Sterling's wife Dawn were injured but survived. 

Reikes' father told NBC 7 that his son was released from the hospital and was recovering. 

Dawn has since returned to Southhampton to be with family.

Reikes had flown with Continental Airlines for nearly a decade, but had recently been working for Sun Country Airlines.

Sun Country Airlines released the following statement on the crash:

"Our thoughts are with all of those involved in this terrible accident. We're in touch with (the pilot's) family and are doing everything we can to support him and his family during this time."

According to Reikes' online profiles, he resided in Torrance, Calif. with his wife and child. His wife is a veterinarian.

Zareski was a father of four and a well-known veterinarian at the Western Veterinary Group in Torrance. 

Robert Stelling was a businessman. His wife Dawn owns an animal hospital in Southhampton, New York, according to the family's acquaintance Gil Flanagan. Together, they had three children. 

The Sterlings and Zareski were in San Diego for a veterinary conference. 

The home in Clairemont was still lined with police tape nearly a week after the crash. On Thursday, neighbors gathered near the crash site to remember the victims

Residents were still shocked by what happened in their neighborhood. 

"You can expect anything to happen on the streetcar accident, train accident — but you can never think that something from the sky is going to drop on you," neighbor Abe Bejjani said.

The plane was owned by Altitude Aviation Inc. in Hermosa Beach, California. A spokesperson for the company responded to NBC 7’s request for comment stating, “The NTSB and FAA are working on the investigation.”

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