Victims of Yorba Linda plane crash remembered amid continuing investigation

Kristin Lam

A vigil Thursday night honored four family members killed when a small plane broke apart and burned in midair, crashing in a Southern California neighborhood on Sunday. 

Part of the plane debris ignited a house, destroying it and killing four people inside. The Orange County Sheriff identified the victims as Roy Lee Anderson, 85, Dahlia Marlies Leber Anderson, 68, Stacie Norene Leber, 48 and Donald Paul Elliott, 58. The two oldest victims owned the house and were husband and wife, the Los Angeles Times reported, and the other two were family guests.

Relatives of the deceased said they were devastated and asked for privacy in a statement released Wednesday

"Our family bond is tight and each member lost in this tragedy represents more than just one role within our family," the statement read. "We lost parents, grandparents, great-parents, spouses, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. The home lost was a beacon for so many family and friends where many celebrations were held."

Community members organized a vigil scheduled for Thursday night at a nearby elementary school. Two others inside the house were injured in the fire and the pilot also died. 

Authorities previously identified the pilot of the small plane, Antonio Pastini, 75, as a retired Chicago police officer, but Chicago police said they have no records of Pastini working for the department. At the crash site, officials found fake retirement papers and a police badge with the same number as one reported lost in 1978, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. 

In this Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 photo, provided by Kyle Vanderheide, Yorba Linda firefighters rush to a home engulfed in flames after a deadly small plane crash in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Pastini’s daughter, Julia Ackley, said her father owned a restaurant and regularly flew from his home in Nevada to family in California. Investigators said Pastini was a commercial-grade pilot. Ackley did not comment on the police credentials. 

“My father is exactly who he said he was," Ackley told KABC-TV.

Investigators on Monday collected the plane's debris strewn across four blocks, planning to transport them to a Phoenix facility for examination. They will also look into Pastini's medical history, flight experience and maintenance reports, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said. 

The Cessna 414A reportedly left the Fullerton Municipal Airport at 1:35 p.m. Sunday, traveling about 10 miles before rapidly descending. Witnesses told investigators the plane's tail and wing broke off while it burning midair. 

More: What happened? NTSB says tail and wings broke off plane before 'unusual' California crash

More: Plane crashes into Southern California residence, killing 5

A preliminary report is expected sometime next week, the safety board said. The full investigation could take up to two years. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Victims of Yorba Linda plane crash remembered amid continuing investigation