Monday, October 11, 2021

Cessna C340, N7022G: Fatal accident occurred October 11, 2021 in Santee, San Diego County, California

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Samarth Aviation LLC 

Location: Santee, California 
Accident Number: WPR22FA004
Date and Time: October 11, 2021, 12:14 Local
Registration: N7022G
Aircraft: Cessna 340A 
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On October 11, 2021, at 1214 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 340A, N7022G, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Santee, California.

The pilot and one person on the ground were fatally injured, and 2 people on the ground sustained serious injuries. 

The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The flight departed from Yuma International Airport (NYL), Yuma, AZ at 1121 mountain daylight time and was destined for Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport (MYF), San Diego, California.

Review of Federal Aviation Administration Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities and recorded Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed that at 1203:58, the controller broadcasted a weather update for MYF and reported the visibility was 10 miles, ceiling 1,700 ft broken, overcast skies at 2,800 ft, and runway 23 was in use.

At 1209:20, the controller issued instructions to the pilot to turn right to a 259° heading to join final, to which the pilot acknowledged while at an altitude of 3,900 ft mean sea level (msl). 

About 28 seconds later, the pilot queried the controller and asked if he was cleared for the ILS Runway 28R approach, with no response from the controller.

At 1210:04, the controller told the pilot that he was 4 miles from PENNY intersection and instructed him to descend to 2,800 ft until established on the localizer, and cleared him for the ILS 28R approach, circle to land runway 23.

The pilot partially read back the clearance, followed by the controller restating the approach clearance.

The pilot acknowledged the clearance a second time. 

At this time, the ADS-B data showed the airplane on a westerly heading, at an altitude of 3,900 ft msl.

Immediately following a traffic alert at 1211:19, the controller queried the pilot and stated that it looked like the airplane was drifting right of course and asked him if he was correcting. 

The pilot responded and stated “correcting, 22G.” 

About 9 seconds later, the pilot said [unintelligible], VFR 23, to which the controller told the pilot he was not tracking the localizer and canceled the approach clearance. 

The controller followed by issuing instructions to climb and maintain 3,000 ft, followed by the issuance of a low altitude alert, and stated that the minimum vectoring altitude in the area was 2,800 ft. 

The pilot acknowledged the controller’s instructions. 

At that time, ADS-B data showed the airplane on a northwesterly heading, at an altitude of 2,400 ft msl. 

At 1212:12, the controller instructed the pilot to climb and maintain 3,800, to which the pilot responded “3,800, 22G.” ADS-B data showed that the airplane was at 3,550 ft msl. 

About 9 seconds later, the controller issued the pilot instructions to turn right to 090° for vectors to final, to which the pilot responded “090 22G.” 

At 1212:54, the controller instructed the pilot to turn right to 090° and climb immediately and maintain 4,000 ft. 

The pilot replied shortly after and acknowledged the controller’s instructions.

About 3 seconds after the pilot’s response, the controller told the pilot that it looked like he was descending and that he needed to make sure he was climbing, followed by an acknowledgment from the pilot.

At 1213:35, the controller queried the pilot about his altitude, which the pilot responded 2,500 ft.

The controller subsequently issued a low altitude alert and advised the pilot to expedite the climb to 5,000 ft. 

No further communication was received from the pilot despite multiple queries from the controller. 

ADS-B data showed that the airplane continued a right descending turn until the last recorded target, located about 1,333 ft northwest of the accident site at an altitude of 1,250 ft msl.

Figure 1 provides an overview of the ADS-B flight track, select ATC communications, and the location of the destination and surrounding area airports. 

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted a residential street on a heading of about 113° magnetic heading. 

The debris path, which consisted of various airplane, vehicle, and residential structure debris was about 475 ft long and 400 ft wide, oriented on a heading of about 132°. 

Numerous residential structures exhibited impact related damage and or fire damage. 

All major structural components of the airplane were located throughout the debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N7022G
Model/Series: 340A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSEE,387 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots / 17 knots, 200°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2700 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.8 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Yuma, AZ (YUM) 
Destination: San Diego, CA (MYF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.85702,-116.96358

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 

SANTEE, California — The siblings of a UPS driver who was killed when a plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood last year have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Steve Krueger, 61, had worked for UPS for about 30 years and was planning his retirement at the time of the crash on October 11, 2021.

Two people died, the pilot, Dr. Sugata Das, and Krueger.

Jeff Krueger is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court.  He sat down with CBS 8 to talk about his brother.

“He was just a great guy as a brother. He didn't have kids. So, my kids were kind of like his kids.  He was the cool uncle.  He was the one who taught them how to water ski because he had his jet boat.  And he goes snow skiing with us and all that,” said Jeff Krueger.

Shortly after the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board posted a preliminary report. But the report said nothing about why the plane crashed or who was at fault.

“We need more information.  I mean, we're really still in the dark.  We haven't got anything back from the FAA. And, initially, they said it was going to be at least two years for them to complete the investigation and give us anything,” said Krueger.

Steve Krueger’s three surviving siblings are hoping they will get more information about the pilot and the company he was flying for, Samarth Aviation LLC in Arizona. Yuma Regional Medical Center is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Attorney Robert Kashfian represents the family. He said the discovery phase of the lawsuit should yield more information.

“I want to ask questions directly.  I want to be able to take a deposition. I want to be able to look at certain records that I don't have access to at this point,” said Kashfian.

The lawsuit alleges Dr. Das was flying the plane as part of his job at Yuma Regional Medical Center and the defendants were “negligent and careless” in the operation of the flight, which resulted in the crash.

CBS 8 reached out to Yuma Regional Medical Center. A spokesperson said Dr. Das worked at the medical center, but he was not employed there. 

Attorneys representing the medical center still have to respond to the lawsuit in court.

“It’s going to be up to the jury to decide what kind of damage the family members have suffered as a result of this incident,” said Kashfian.

Jeff Krueger still keeps in touch with the homeowners whose houses burned down at the scene of the crash.  Those neighbors are still rebuilding, one year later.

“This isn't just about Steve. There are other people that it impacted,” said Krueger.

Dr. Sugata Das

Steve Krueger

On October 11, a small plane descended from the sky above Santee, California, a suburb outside San Diego, and crashed into two residential homes, leading to two deaths. 

In the days that followed, some social media users seized on the news, claiming without evidence that the accident had been caused by a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"Epidemic of plane crashes linked to vaccine-related strokes in pilots," reads text across an October 17 video posted to Rumble.

The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.

The video’s claims are entirely baseless. The cause of the Santee crash has not yet been established, said a representative for the National Transportation Safety Board, the government agency investigating the accident.

The video hinges its claim on the fact that Dr. Sugata Das, the pilot of the crashed plane, was a cardiologist, who would have been "required to get the vaccine." However, it does not provide any proof of its assertions that a stroke resulting from a vaccine caused the accident. 

In addition, the video’s claim that the COVID-19 vaccines have caused an "epidemic" of plane crashes is not based in fact, a spokesperson from the Federal Aviation Administration told PolitiFact. 

"The Federal Aviation Administration has seen no evidence of aircraft accidents or pilot incapacitations caused by pilots suffering medical complications associated with COVID-19 vaccines," FAA spokesperson Crystal Essiaw wrote in an email. 

The rate of fatalities resulting from aviation accidents has actually been at a low point during the period COVID-19 vaccines have been available to the public. 

According to FAA’s statistics, 0.96 aviation fatalities occurred every 100,000 flight hours in 2019, before the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. In 2020, that rate decreased to 0.91. And in 2021, after the COVID-19 vaccines became available, it reached 0.74, its lowest point in at least the last six years. 

According to the FAA’s guidelines, pilots are not allowed to fly for 48 hours after they have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the period within which most side effects subside

Our ruling 

A video posted to Rumble claimed that there is an "epidemic of plane crashes linked to vaccine-related strokes in pilots."

As evidence, the video cites a plane crash that killed two people in Santee, California. The National Transportation Safety Board told PolitiFact that the cause of the crash has not been established and that there is nothing to support the video’s claims. 

The Federal Aviation Administration told PolitiFact that it has seen no evidence of aircraft accidents or pilot incapacitations caused by pilots suffering from medical complications involving COVID-19 vaccines. 

The rate of aviation fatalities has reached a relative low point during the period COVID-19 vaccines have been available to the public. 
See the sources for this fact-check: 

A Rumble video, October 17, 2021 

Interview, Crystal Essiaw, spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, October 19, 2021

Interview, Keith Holloway, spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, October 19, 2021

Federal Aviation Administration, FAQs on Use of COVID-19 Vaccines by Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers, accessed October 19, 2021

SANTEE, California — A report from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office Thursday fills in some of the details missing since a small plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood Monday, leaving two people dead and leveling two homes.

The report offered the latest official recounting of that day’s event, as the chaos of the crash left details about how the plane went down and what it hit first initially hazy.

UPS driver Steve Krueger, 61, had been pulling up to a stop sign on Greencastle Street — a few blocks from Santana High School — when the aircraft hit his work truck first, the medical examiner says. “The aircraft continued and then collided with two homes in the neighborhood and caught fire,” the report details.

Calls to 911 drew a massive emergency response, and when the flames were extinguished from the driver’s vehicle, Krueger’s death “was confirmed without medical intervention,” the medical examiner wrote.

The medical examiner also formally identified the Arizona cardiologist who had been piloting the plane, Dr. Sugata Das, and confirmed his age, 64, which was not initially provided by his practice when they confirmed his death ahead of officials.

The medical examiner could not shed light on what caused Das to crash in the first place, stating only that he “lost control of the aircraft and landed in a residential neighborhood.” Determining why the plane went down is up to the National Transportation Safety Board, which packed up plane wreckage and left Santee Wednesday to spend another two weeks working on their investigation in Arizona.

Dr. Sugata Das

Delivery company UPS identified in a letter to employees the longtime worker who died Monday after an airplane clipped his truck while on the job, killing him just as he was on the verge of retirement.

Steve Krueger, who was a UPS employee for more than 30 years, is one of the two people killed in Monday’s tragic crash. He was doing his rounds in Santee and was in his delivery truck when a Cessna C340 nosedived from the sky and crashed into a residential neighborhood.

“Our employees and Steve’s family need to know that he will always be remembered by his UPS family,” the delivery company said in its letter on Monday.

Krueger, an Ocean Beach resident, was fond of snow and the outdoors and had just purchased a home near Mammoth Lakes, a local told NBC 7. The late delivery driver was just months away from retirement and planned to spend much of his time in his new home.

Jim Leutkemeyer said Krueger owned property in Ocean Beach and took great care of his tenants. He said the UPS employee’s dedication to them went as far as vacuuming the rooftops to ensure they lived in clean conditions.

Leutkemeyer, a neighbor and friend of Krueger's, added that he enjoyed the UPS worker's playful sense of humor, which he said will be missed dearly.

“I was always joking with him because he’d say, ‘Can you help me, you know? I’m getting ready to start this project.’ and I’d say, ‘Oh, my back just flared up.’ So we always joked back and forth about our age,” Leutkemeyer said. “I’m going to miss that. I just can’t believe this happened to Steve.”

On Tuesday, UPS issued another statement regarding Krueger's devastating death.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our driver Steve Krueger, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," the company's statement read. "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."

The company coordinated a moment of silence in honor of Krueger at 12:14 p.m. Tuesday – 24 hours after the fatal impact. A flag outside the UPS customer service center in Kearny Mesa was held at half-staff in remembrance of the employee.

Dr. Sugata Das

Steve Krueger

A doctor piloting a Cessna C340 that crashed Monday in Santee near Santana High School has been identified as one of at least two people killed in the incident, officials said.

The plane was headed to San Diego from Yuma, Arizona. It was supposed to land at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Kearny Mesa, according to the flight plan, but never made it. It is unclear if the pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing at Gillespie Field in Santee, which is just a few miles from where the plane crashed at around 12:15 p.m.

According to witnesses, the plane, which had tail number N7022G, went down along Greencastle Street where it intersects with Jeremy Street. The wing of the plane clipped a UPS truck that was nearing a stop sign, killing the driver. The fuselage then slid toward two homes and exploded, witnesses said.

The chief medical officer of the Yuma Regional Medical Center confirmed Monday evening that the pilot of the plane was a colleague.

“We are deeply sad to hear news of a plane owned by local cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das which crashed near Santee,” said Dr. Bharat Magu. Chief Medical Officer at YRMC. “As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man, Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend our prayers and support to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time."

A family friend told NBC 7 that Das worked at the YRMC but lived in San Diego, flying back and forth frequently.

In audio of Das' exchanges with Air Traffic Control about a half-mile from the runway, a controller can be heard telling Das his plane is too low.

“Low altitude alert, climb immediately, climb the airplane,” the controller told Das.

The controller repeatedly urges the plane to climb to 5,000 feet, and when it remains at 1,500 feet warns: “You appear to be descending again, sir.”

Shortly before 2 p.m. at a news conference near the crash scene, Santee Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita confirmed that at least two people died in the crash or the ensuing fire.

"It's a pretty brutal scene for our guys and we're trying to comb through it," Matsushita said, adding that he was unsure if there were additional fatalities. He did say that the debris field from the crash extended nearly a block to the southeast.

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSA) was expected to be at the scene Tuesday morning, the agency said.

In addition to the pair of destroyed homes, at least five more were damaged.

Matsushita said two people were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Neighbors told NBC 7 they are a husband and wife who were saved from the charred home on the corner struck by the body of the plane. The woman was rescued through a window, her hair singed and face burned. Her husband was rescued from the back yard, pulled through the fence to safety by neighbors.  

SANTEE, California — Colleagues confirmed that the Cessna C340 that crashed into homes in Santee on Monday was owned by Dr. Sugata Das – a cardiologist who worked at the Yuma Regional Medical Center in Yuma, Arizona.  

The center's chief medical officer issued a statement, saying in part, "As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man. Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend prayers and support to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time". 

Home security camera video shows the Cessna C340 as it plunges from the sky and hurtles to the ground below. A moment later, a fiery explosion could be seen from miles away. 

At least two people have died following the crash and two homes were destroyed. 

Minutes earlier, air traffic control noticed something wasn't right.

"It looks like you are drifting off course. Are you correcting?” an air traffic controller could be heard asking.  

The audio between the pilot of the Cessna C340 heading from Yuma to Montgomery Field in San Diego and the air traffic controller reveals moments of intense alarm - and possible confusion. 

The controller on the ground is heard warning the pilot that he is flying dangerously low and requesting that he increase his altitude.  

"Climb immediately,” the controller says. “Maintain 4,000. OK. It looks like you are descending, sir. I need to make sure you are climbing, not descending.”  

And then just a half-minute later the controller’s commands become more frantic. 

"Low altitude alert. Climb immediately. Climb the airplane. Maintain 5,000. Expedite the climb. Climb the airplane please.”