A local cardiologist, 64-year-old Dr. Sugata Das, was reportedly piloting a plane that crashed in Santee on Oct. 11, 2021, according to an NBC 7 report. Two people were killed, including the doctor piloting the twin-engine Cessna C340 and a UPS driver on the ground. According to witnesses, the plane’s wing clipped a UPS truck, then slid toward two homes and exploded.
The plane piloted by Das was heading to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Kearny Mesa from Yuma, Arizona. As an experienced pilot, the doctor frequently commuted between the two locations.
Just before 12:15 p.m., residents in the area reportedly heard the loud sounds of a plane’s engine. At the same time, Das was communicating with Air Traffic Control, notifying them that he was approximately a minute away from his destination. Das then looped the plane to the right, veering off course. In the audio from the exchange with the air traffic controller, Das is told that his plane is too low and repeatedly urges the aircraft to climb. At around 12:15 p.m., the plane crashed at Greencastle and Jeremy streets in Santee. Das and the driver of a UPS truck, Steve Krueger, were killed, and several others were injured.
A couple who owned one of the two homes the plane crashed into were hospitalized. The other home was empty at the time of the accident.
Investigation of the crash site continued for two days to discover why or how the accident occurred before the final debris was cleared.
A preliminary report confirms that moments before the crash, an air traffic controller told Das at least six times that the plane was too low.
Das did not respond, which means there may have been a mechanical failure, or he could have been incapacitated, but it is unknown. It is also unclear whether Das was attempting to make an emergency landing at Gillespie Field, just a few miles from where the crash occurred.
A certified flight instructor, Robert Katz, believed Das “was totally disoriented.” Because of how low the clouds were, Katz said that Das would have had to use an instrument landing system while approaching.
The investigation remains ongoing and has been taken over by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to San Diego authorities.
The people who lost a loved one, suffered injuries, or property damage, may have the right to pursue a claim for compensation. That may include Steve Kruger’s surviving family (e.g., spouse, children, siblings, possibly parents), the couple who were injured, and the owners of any houses damaged or destroyed.
Who is liable for the crash and resulting losses will depend on the outcome of the investigation. Unfortunately, it is too early to know and may take up to two years for the investigation to be complete. Examples of potentially liable parties include the manufacturer of the airplane (e.g., if a part failed), the pilot’s employer (e.g., if Das was flying for the benefit of the hospital), or the pilot’s insurer (e.g., if an error was made).
If you or your loved one was injured, killed, or suffered other losses in an aviation accident, contact CaseyGerry. Our attorneys have decades of experience in Aviation Litigation and can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Request a free consultation online or call (619) 238-1811 today.