A community rebuilds: Santee waives permit fees for homes ravaged by plane crash

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SANTEE, Calif. — More help is on the way for victims of this month’s deadly plane crash in Santee.

City leaders Wednesday night unanimously voted to waive all permit fees for victims whose homes were destroyed and now must rebuild after the Oct. 11 crash. That includes the home of newlywed couple Courtney and Cody Campbell, who lost nearly everything they owned in the aftermath of the crash that killed two people including pilot Dr. Sugata Das and UPS driver Steve Krueger and severely injured two others.

Part of that vote by Santee City Council also waives fees for a ceremony of life to be held at Town Center Park to honor Krueger.

“Everyone’s doing their part to try to make it as seamless and as best of a process as it can be,” Courtney said, joined by her husband at the meeting to express their gratitude.

“Streamlining of the processes has made our lives easier,” Cody said. “It’s allowed us to focus on the things we need to focus on.”

Support continues to grow in the city since the twin-engine Cessna flown by Das crashed in the neighborhood, upending the lives of many in the East County community. On Tuesday, a fundraiser hosted by a local Wendy’s restaurant netted an estimated $21,000 for the Campbells and residents Maria and Phil Morris while GoFundMe campaigns for each have raised more than $50,000 apiece.

With Wednesday’s vote, the council said yes to waiving thousands of dollars in fees associated with the building process that would greatly benefit both families.

“For them to do that on behalf of the community for our families is just amazing,” said said Jimmy Slaff, son of Maria Morris. “Not only for us, but for the other houses that have been impacted.”

Several other homes sustained minor damage from the crash. Fees for repairs to those homes will be waived for those residents as well.

Also in Wednesday’s meeting, a dispatcher group from Heartland Communications was honored for their role in helping communicate and manage the tragedy as it unfolded.

Following that, several of the neighbors who rushed in to pull Maria and Phil Morris out of their burning home were also honored.

“I definitely am truly thankful for our community,” Amanda Nelson said.

The neighbors say all of the people involved are now closer than ever.

“We ran toward the danger,” Michael Keeley said. “We helped out our neighbors. I’m proud to call these not only my neighbors, but my friends.”

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