Ocean Beach man is mourned after his death in Santee plane crash while driving UPS truck
The driver of a UPS delivery truck who was killed when a small plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood Oct. 11 was identified by his employer as Ocean Beach resident Steve Krueger, who worked at the company for nearly 30 years.
The plane’s pilot, Dr. Sugata Das, a cardiologist who had worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona since 2005, also was killed, Yuma hospital officials said.
A San Diego County spokesman said it could take weeks to officially confirm the identities of the two victims because of the condition of the bodies. However, the victims’ employers confirmed their names.
Krueger’s UPS colleagues held a moment of silence for him Oct. 12. The 61-year-old was a graduate of Bonita Vista High School and attended San Diego State University, according to his Facebook page, which
said he originally was from Milwaukee.
Colleagues left notes, flowers and a photo collage on and around Krueger’s car, which sat parked where he left it outside the UPS facility in Kearny Mesa. A flag flew at half staff outside the building.
“Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his work, and his positive attitude and joyful laugh made the hardest days a little lighter. Steve was held in high regard and will be greatly missed,” a UPS spokesman said in a statement.
Longtime friend Todd Bohlman said he had met Krueger 25 years ago on a Lake Powell houseboat trip. Krueger saw Bohlman and friends barefoot waterskiing and wanted to learn.
“By the end of the week he was up on his feet, a little black and blue, but having a blast,” Bohlman said. “I will miss that smile of his.”
Santee neighbors describe rescue scene immediately after Cessna crashed into UPS truck and then struck two homes
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are exploring what caused the Cessna C340 to crash shortly before it was to reach its intended destination. There was no flight recorder, or “black box,” on board, according to the NTSB.
Two homes and the delivery truck were destroyed.
Radio communications indicate the pilot was flying too low, triggering warnings from an air traffic controller to fly higher: “Climb immediately. Climb the airplane.”
Seconds later, around 12:15 p.m., the plane crashed into the truck and homes east of Santana High School. Several bystanders raced to rescue a couple in their 70s from their burning home. One neighbor called the scene “chaos.”
According to a website for Power of Love, a nonprofit organization that focuses on HIV care and prevention in children in Zambia and India, Das was a board director. The profile also noted that he flew his Cessna between Yuma and San Diego, where he lived with his family.
The six-seat aircraft was headed from Yuma to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Field in Kearny Mesa. The crash site is about 11 miles east of the airport, commonly referred to as Montgomery Field.
The plane was flying under instrument flight rules — as opposed to visual flight rules — because of meteorological conditions.
A preliminary report on the crash is expected to be released around the end of the month. Full investigations into fatal crashes typically take a year or two to complete.
— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.