5 killed after plane nosedived in California parking lot


SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Witnesses watched in horror as a small plane banked low in sunny skies over a Southern California shopping center and then suddenly nosedived, crashing into a parking lot and killing all five people on board.

Ella Pham and her boyfriend were walking across the lot Sunday when they saw the twin-engine Cessna plummet.

“We looked up to see the plane falling nose first,” Pham, 20, told the Los Angeles Times . “It was so heartbreaking just seeing the plane crumbled into pieces.”

The pilot of the Cessna 414 and all four passengers were killed, but nobody on the ground was hurt, authorities said.

Three of the victims were co-workers at Pacific Union International, a San Francisco Bay Area real estate firm, and the two others were their family members, the company said.

Nasim Ghanadan, 29, Floria Hakimi, 62, and Lara Shepherd, 42, were real estate agents based out of an office in Danville, California. Hakimi’s son Navid Hakimi, 32, and Shepherd’s husband, Scott Shepherd, the plane’s 53-year-old pilot, were also killed.

“Our entire Pacific Union family is mourning the loss of our colleagues, family and friends,” CEO Mark A. McLaughlin said in a statement. “Life is precious and we are focused on comforting the loved ones affected by this devastating event.”

The plane took off from Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, California, according to a flight tracker service.

The pilot declared an emergency but didn’t state the nature of his problem before crashing about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from John Wayne Airport, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Albert Nixon said Monday. Nixon didn’t know how much time elapsed between the distress call and the crash.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.