Couple injured in Santee plane crash recovering in hospital

Local

SANTEE, Calif. — Maria and Phil Morris barely escaped the burning wreckage of their Santee home with their lives seven days ago when a Cessna 340 crashed into their neighborhood, erupting into a fireball. 

“My mom went to surgery yesterday for skin on her hands and the back of her neck because she definitely suffered deep second-degree, some third-degree burns.”

The couple remain at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, according to Maria’s son Jimmy Slaff. She underwent one surgery and is waiting on another: facial reconstruction. Her husband Phil has had a rougher time. 

“Phil had a surgery Thursday, which did not go as planned,” Slaff said. “They had to stop the surgery midpoint due to some issues.” 

Maria’s husband is now sedated and on a ventilator. They were able to graft his arms and hands, but he still needs surgery to his legs and feet.

“He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, so every place that didn’t have clothing got that flash burn,” Slaff said.  

Slaff recorded a message from Maria’s hospital bed as way for her to thank those who pulled them from the burning house.

“She’s lost her home,” he said. “Everything she owns, her beloved dog. Instead of really focusing in on that and letting that bring her down, she’s going to reach out to the community.” 

Only two walls of their home remain standing. In the rubble, there were a few finds, including a tin box that Maria had just placed her passport inside the night before.  

“You can see everything in the house from one spot and there was that box underneath her makeup table,” Slaff said. “It was burned to ashes.”

The remains of her beloved dog Roxy were also found and something else equally sentimental.

“I gave her a cancer survivor belt and it was a hallmark ornament and it was made out of sheet metal and that charred but survived, pretty much intact.”

If anyone would like to donate, a GoFundMe account has been set up.

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