A man was killed Saturday morning after a small airplane crashed in a remote area of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego County, officials confirmed.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner has identified the pilot as 69-year-old Max John Mizejewski of Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Mizejewski rented a Cessna aircraft in Riverside County on Friday, according to the ME.
According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the two fixed-wing aircraft was later reported missing. At first light on Saturday, a ground search crew and aircraft crew from the Civil Air Patrol began scouring the Anza Borrego Desert for the missing plane.
Officials said the crews discovered the wreckage of the aircraft lying upside down in a desolate area commonly known as the “Borrego Badlands.”
When searchers hiked into the crash site, they found a man dead near the wreckage.
The victim’s body was later recovered by sheriff’s deputies. The ME has not released the exact cause of death.
The sheriff’s department said the crash site has been secured. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to visit the area Sunday to begin their investigation.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located approximately 85 miles east of San Diego.