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By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

April 20, 2022 (Santee) “All of a sudden I hear this loud rumbling,” said Jill Perry, house manager for Home for Guiding Hands in Santee. “We were just sitting down to lunch.” That rumbling was the sound, and aftereffects, when a Cessna small plane, which killed the pilot, Dr. Sugata Das, and a UPS driver, Steve Krueger, crashed in a Santee neighborhood on October 11, 2021, according to a video published by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Two homes were destroyed, and other homes were damaged--the home that housed the residents, Castillo Verde group home, houses women who have intellectual disabilities, was damaged as well. Two of the six residents were at home when the crash happened.

“They literally ran with nothing,” continued Perry. “They (the ones who were not present) didn’t get to see their house; they didn’t understand what happened.”

“Essie (a group home resident) and her roommate were there,” said Perry. Essie relayed feelings of sadness at witnessing the aftermath.

“We were literally walking over parts,” continued Perry on what the residents endured. 

The group home residents and workers, originally displaced, have since returned to the house.

How did the residents help to heal since the crash six months ago?  Keeping the same routine has made all the difference according to Perry, along with a heightened sense of life and living.

“I take every day as a gift,” said Perry. “We were saved.”

The crash, which was ruled an accident by the San Diego medical examiner, happened when Dr. Das, a cardiologist from Arizona, was travelling to San Diego’s Montgomery Field and ran into trouble. The plane crashed at the intersection of Jeremy and Greencastle about three blocks east of Santana High School.

East County Magazine published a number of stories relating to the tragic situation.

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