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Fog Led to Vegas Plane Crash that Killed 6 in July: NTSB

by Pennsylvania Digital News

Posted on: August 3, 2023, 03:48h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2023, 03:49h.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a thick and unexpected slab of fog contributed to the crash of the jet that killed six Southern California residents on their way home from Las Vegas in the early morning hours of July 8.

The Cessna 550 crashed in a field 800 feet north of the French Valley Airport runway near Murietta, Calif. around 4:11 a.m. that Saturday.

The remains of a private jet smolder near the runway to French Valley Airport in Murrieta, Calif. (Image: Mike Valdez/Splash News)

The NTSB’s preliminary report said that the airplane leveled off at 19,000 feet after departing from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas at 3:16 a.m. without incident.

The plane began its descent about 58 miles north the small airport around 3:35 a.m., after air traffic control granted clearance and provided a weather update, again, without incident. At that time, visibility at French Valley was 10 miles.

However, 20 minutes later, a dense fog rapidly rolled in, reducing visibility to only three-quarters of a mile. By the time of the crash, visibility was down to only half a mile.

According to the NTSB, the pilot, 25-year-old Riese Lenders, made two attempts to land in the fog. During his first, the plane descended to 1,600 feet before aborting the attempt. Lenders then requested clearance to attempt a second landing, flying back up to 5,000 feet before receiving that clearance.

The plane crashed during Lenders’ second attempt, bursting into flames and killing Lenders, his co-pilot Manuel Vargas-Regalado, 32, and their four passengers: Lindsey Gleiche, 31, of Huntington Beach (who was Lenders’ girlfriend); Abigail Tellez-Vargas, 33, of Murrieta; Alma Razick, 51, of Temecula; and Ibrahem Razick, 46, of Temecula.

A final report on the crash is expected in a year or two, once the NTSB’s thoroughly examines all the wreckage, which it transported to a secure facility.


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