Victims in Corona plane crash ID’d

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CORONA (CNS) – Four people killed when a single-engine airplane crashed during departure from Corona Municipal Airport were identified by Riverside County coroner’s officials Friday.

Joseph Zingali, 85, of Torrance, the pilot of the Beech B-36 Bonanza, and passengers Paula Mitchell, 61, Daniel Rodriguez, 70, and Teresa Rodriguez, 63, died when the plane went down shortly after noon Wednesday while taking off from the non-towered airfield. The Rodriguezes were from Whittier; Mitchell from La Mirada.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the four-seat Bonanza — N36TT — was manufactured in 1983 and had a valid airworthiness certificate.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators spent part of Thursday at the crash site, examining the burned wreckage. Officials said the plane’s remnants will be hauled away to a secure location for further inspection.

The Bonanza went down as the pilot was trying to depart Runway 7, which is roughly 3,200 feet in length, with obstructions at both ends.

Fire crews reached the site within 10 minutes and found the plane engulfed in flames, which were doused after burning about a quarter-acre of brush. No homes or other structures were in the immediate vicinity.

A Corona Fire Department spokesman said the Bonanza had been topped off with 80 gallons of gasoline, suggesting that with all four seats occupied, it may have been overloaded. The plane hit a fence after rising only a few feet from the runway surface, causing it to cartwheel onto vacant property owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Witnesses said the pilot appeared unable to rotate the plane as he approached the runway edge.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash will likely be published next week.