Regalado Executive Jet Crash
FRENCH VALLEY (CNS) – An executive jet that crashed while attempting to land at French Valley Airport, killing all six on board, was descending into a fog bank when it slammed into terrain just short of the airfield, according to federal investigators.
The July 8 crash killed the operator of the Cessna Citation C-550, Manuel Alberto Caleb Vargas Regalado, 32, his wife, Abigail Tellez Vargas Regalado, 33, both of Temecula, along with the second pilot, Riese Lenders, 25, of Rancho Palos Verdes, and passengers Lindsey Gleiche, 31, of Huntington Beach, Alma Razick, 51, and Ibrahem Razick, 46, both of Temecula.
According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board Friday, the group had flown to Las Vegas in the executive jet on the night of July 7 and departed from Las Vegas International Airport to return to French Valley Airport about 3:15 the following morning.
The flight was uneventful until the jet, tail No. N819KR, began its descent 50 miles from French Valley, and the pilots obtained local weather, confirming visibility had abruptly gone from clear to low clouds and limited visibility.
Regalado and Lenders requested an instrument approach from SoCal Approach Control in Los Angeles, and the crew received approval to fly one. However, the report said the first effort resulted in a missed approach, and the crew contacted air traffic controllers a second time, again requesting an instrument flight rules landing.
The request was granted, and the crew was given vectors to the approach, but conditions continued to worsen over French Valley, with a 300- foot ceiling and only a three quarters of a mile visibility, according to the report.
“While on final approach, the airplane descended below the decision altitude for the approach, which was 1,600 feet,” investigators wrote. “The last recorded data point indicated that the airplane was … at an altitude of 1,450 feet. The airplane impacted terrain 800 feet short of the Runway 18 threshold.”
It was unclear whether the crew was searching for the runway in the fog, or the business jet went lower for other reasons.
The Cessna Citation burst into flames in the area of Auld and Briggs roads. All of the occupants were pronounced dead at the scene by Riverside County Fire Department paramedics.
The report didn’t specify the reasons for the flight to Las Vegas and the quick turnaround. It was unclear whether the pilots had rested in the five hours they were there.
A fundraiser seeking donations for the benefit of the five children belonging to Regalado and his wife had raised $59,485 by Monday.
“The sudden and unexpected passing of Manny and Abigail have impacted so many people, and (they) will be missed by so many, especially their children,” wrote Monique Bettencourt, a self-identified family friend who started the GoFundMe account, which can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/f2r56-the-vargas-family?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_gfm+f2r56-the- vargas-family.
“This fundraiser is for their five children, and the funds will go directly to Abigail’s sister, Alejandra Trevino,” according to Bettencourt.“She will raise and love them as her own.”
The children were identified as Caleb, 14, Alexandria, 11, Manny, 8, Alberto, 3, and Avi, 1.
The July 8 crash was the second that week at French Valley. On July 4, a student pilot taking his three sons for a ride in a single-engine Cessna 172 went down after a touch-and-go landing. The student airman was killed, and the boys suffered major injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to issue its final report on the executive jet crash within two years.
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