Phoenix family dies in plane crash near Santee

SANTEE, Calif. — The identities of an Arizona father, mother and their daughter, who died in a Santee plane crash, were released Sunday afternoon.

William A. Stern Jr., 65, his 53-year-old wife Jennifer J. Stern and 19-year-old daughter Katelyn Jane were killed as the home-made plane hit a hillside Saturday in the Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve, north of Santee, San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday.

Family and friends of the Sterns were seen gathering at their Phoenix home Sunday, according to media.

William Stern was piloting the plane he owned from Montgomery Field to Phoenix Deer Valley Airport.

Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the single-engine Lancair IV-P crashed under unknown circumstances around 10:15 a.m. about 3 miles north of Santee.

A hiker in the area witnessed the small plane going down, and said it looked like the plane may have been doing stunts.

“I watched as this plane flew over my house yesterday.  He wasn’t doing stunts.  He was in trouble and couldn’t recover,” Sam Dennis said in a Facebook post Sunday.

Phoenix family ID'd in plane crashA sheriff’s helicopter found the crash site in remote Sycamore Canyon, west of Route 67 and east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The incident was being investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Gregor said the NTSB investigator usually posts a basic preliminary report on the agency’s website within a week or two of an accident, though it typically takes months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.