BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California family of five on their way to a holiday party died when their private plane crashed in an almond orchard near Bakersfield, California, a family member said Monday.
Jason Thomas Price, his wife Olga Dahlan, their two daughters, ages 9 and 10, and their 14-year-old son, died in the crash Saturday, Dahlan’s brother Jimmy Dahlan told reporters.
Dahlan said the family from Gilroy, California was on its way to Las Vegas to attend a holiday party.
Kern County officials had not identified the victims by Monday afternoon but Dahlan, friends and colleagues told reporters they were the Price family.
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“They were a wonderful family and dear close friends. They were loved by many,” friend Rich Whites told the San Jose Mercury News (http://bayareane.ws/1NzdYkS ).
Price was an engineer at Genesis Solutions in Gilroy, had served as a machinery technician in the U.S. Coast Guard in the late 1990s, and offered disaster and humanitarian relief as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol, according to a LinkedIn profile that appears to be his. Relatives said he would often fly for work or to take his family on short trips to visit relatives.
Judy-Ann Rosti, who also lives in Gilroy, said that she and Olga Dahlan were close friends and her daughter took dance classes with the Price’s youngest daughter, Olivia.
“They were a beautiful family,” Rosti told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Olga would walk into the room and light it up, and Jason was the most lovable and vivid person. He adored his wife and children. The kids were beautiful.”
Air traffic controllers lost contact shortly after receiving a mayday call from the single-engine Piper PA32 as it headed from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose to Henderson Executive Airport in suburban Las Vegas.
Searchers spotted the wreckage southwest of Bakersfield about three hours after receiving an alert from the FAA about a missing plane that was last detected an estimated 10 miles south of the city, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said.
It was not clear if weather played a role in the crash, but a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford said it was rainy and cloudy in the area south of Bakersfield around the time the plane dropped off radar.
The crash was only about 30 miles from the site of a medical helicopter crash that killed four people in heavy rain and fog 10 days earlier.
Classmates and friends of Olivia gathered at Rosti’s home Monday afternoon to write condolence cards for the grieving Price relatives. The children, Rosti said, seemed to understand what had happened.
“I’m going to miss them a lot,” she said.