Former Reno landscaper apparent pilot in crash
RENO (AP) – A California man who formerly owned a landscaping business in Reno apparently was the pilot of a small plane that crashed into a Reno home, killing him and his passenger, his wife said Thursday.
The 1957 Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft that crashed into a house about two miles south of Reno Tahoe-International Airport on Wednesday was registered to John Monday, 49, Laguna Beach, Calif., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
FAA officials said they have not formally identified the victims, but Karen Monday of Laguna Beach told the Reno Gazette-Journal that an FAA official telephoned her Thursday morning and said her husband was believed to have been the pilot.
She said she was unsure of the passenger’s identity but believed it might be a flight instructor from Corona, Calif., where they were headed before the crash.
Both bodies remained in the plane Thursday as the National Transportation Safety Board continued an investigation into the crash.
NTSB investigator Nicole Charnon confirmed officials had reached the family of the man who registered the plane, although an official identification had not yet been determined.
After the plane left from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the pilot called the control tower and said he heard the engine quit.
“They tried to turn around to go back to the airport,” Charnon said. She said engine trouble, a lack of fuel or propeller or electrical difficulties are possible causes.
Firefighters said 60-80 percent of the $900,000 home was destroyed or damaged. None of the four family members were home when the plane crashed but the family schnauzer, Roscoe, died in the fire.
Workers tore down the walls of the home Thursday afternoon to remove the aircraft that had sunk into the floor.
“We’re going to look at what’s left,” Charnon said. “We’re lucky we had witnesses and traffic control who reported a power problem and the engine quit.”
Charnon said the investigation would take six months to a year. She said she will look at pilot experience, wind, maintenance records and recordings made of conversations with the traffic control tower.
“There are a number of things we have to rule out,” she said.
John Monday had owned a Reno landscaping company, JSM & Associates, that Reno officials say went out of business in 2002. Karen Monday said she and her husband used to fly to Reno to maintain the business.
She said her husband left Corona, Calif., Wednesday morning and landed in Reno.
“He was coming home,” Karen Monday said. “He had lunch and left me a message that he was coming back …the FAA called this morning and said he took off from Reno and was having … problems with the plane. He called the control tower but they couldn’t help him.”
She said officials told her the pilot was her husband because they traced a receipt to gas to him and found his credit card at the scene.
“He was the hardest working man I have ever known,” she said.