Santee council recognizes neighbors for ‘heroic’ acts amid tragic plane crash

Local

SANTEE, Calif. — Days after a small airplane crashed into a Santee neighborhood, city leaders paused Wednesday to honor those who stepped up to help the community through an emotionally taxing week.

“We had people that came to the aid of those who were probably going to perish and they didn’t,” Santee Mayor John Minto said during Wednesday’s meeting. “No heroes are born. Heroes are people who come forward to do heroic things. There’s no rhyme or reason why it happened or how they’re chosen to come forward and we had citizens who did that on Monday.”

The twin-engine Cessna C340 crashed at about 12:15 p.m. Monday at the intersection of Greencastle and Jeremy streets. The plane, owned by cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das, was en route from Yuma, Arizona to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Das and UPS driver Steve Krueger were killed in the crash. It left behind a trail of destruction in Santee including leveling two homes, damaging several others and leaving behind a significant amount of debris.

Krueger’s car remains in the UPS parking lot in Kearny Mesa where it has attracted a growing memorial from friends and co-workers.

In the wake of tragedy, Krueger’s family said they have been moved by the support.

“The outpouring of affection that we’re seeing for my brother, it’s overwhelming,” said Jeff Krueger, Steve’s brother. “It’s making this a lot easier just knowing what so many people felt about him.”

Steve’s stepsister also spoke with FOX 5 about how he’ll be remembered.

“The most happy and loving person,” Georgia Gonzales said. “Everybody loved him and it’s just been proven so many times, look at the people on his route. He just loved working for UPS.”

Das worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center located in the southwestern portion of Arizona. His hospital shared condolences over his death earlier this week, saying that the community had lost “an exceptional physician, colleague and friend, a man who dedicated his life and career to caring for patients.”

Although his family hasn’t spoken publicly, Krueger’s family are keeping them in their thoughts.

“We’re all waiting for more information about the doctor that was presumably flying the plane and our hearts go out for their family and for those that have lost their homes or have been affected by this,” Gonzales said. “It’s terrible.”

A candlelight vigil is planned Thursday at the corner of Mast Boulevard and Jeremy Street, walking distance from the crash site to honor both victims. It begins at 7 p.m.

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