Vigil pays tribute to beloved UPS driver killed in Santee plane crash

Local

SANTEE, Calif. – Hundreds of community members came together in a candlelight vigil Thursday night in Santee to honor longtime UPS delivery driver Steve Krueger.

Krueger, 61, was on his usual delivery route Monday when a twin-engine Cessna plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood, killing both him and the pilot of the plane, Dr. Sugata Das. Das reportedly was en route to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport from Yuma, Arizona when the aircraft went down, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Krueger worked for UPS for more than 30 years and was remembered by neighbors for being a familiar and friendly face in the community.

“We pray for Dr. Das and we pray for Steve Krueger,” Santee Mayor John Minto said. “Two men that perished long before their time.”

The vigil drew in neighbors, friends and plenty of strangers to show support after an emotionally taxing week.

Speaking during the vigil was Steve’s brother Jeff Krueger, who remarked about the outpouring of support the family has received for much of the week.

“People keep asking me and my family how we’re doing with all this and I keep giving the same answer: all the affection and the overwhelming response from all of you that made this much easier to deal with,” Jeff said. “I mean, Steve would not want anybody to be upset or sad about his passing. He and I talked about that a few times.”

Speakers noted that Krueger was adventurous, charismatic and would drop anything to help someone in need. Perhaps was stood out most was how deeply dedicated he was to his job at UPS.

“It’s just a tragic loss, but we were fortunate to know him and were fortunate to have someone to live on this planet like him,” longtime friend Mike Cronin said.

Everyone noted that it brought him joy and they now feel that he died doing what he loved.

“I like to think when it happened that he was happy in the moment and he just moved on,” Cronin said. “That’s all I can think. That makes me feel a little bit more at peace.”

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