A passenger who died after a small plane crashed into Santa Monica beach on Thursday has been identified as the city’s former mayor, Rex Minter, 95, officials confirmed.
The plane landed upside down along the shoreline just after 3:15 p.m. after just nine minutes into the flight, and the pilot and Minter – who were the only two on board – were hospitalized, authorities said.
The City of Santa Monica said Friday that Minter died of his injuries.
“The City is grateful for Mr. Minter’s public service and we join his family in mourning his passing. Flags in front of City Hall will be flown at half-mast and a New Year’s City Council meeting will be adjourned in honor of Minter’s service,” city officials said in a statement.
Minter was a passenger on the single-engine Cessna that took off from Santa Monica Airport bound for Malibu, CBS Los Angeles reported.
According to a flight log, the pilot reported engine trouble. He attempted to turn back to the airport but opted instead to attempt an emergency landing on the shore, according to the outlet.
In a recording obtained by KTTV-TV, air traffic control warns the pilot that “landing on the beach will be at your own risk”.
“I wish I had another choice,” replied the pilot.
The plane crashed into waves near the Venice Beach basketball and tennis courts in front of dozens of people, according to Los Angeles County Lifeguards. The crash site is approximately 3 miles from the Santa Monica airport and located in the take-off corridor.
Dramatic images of Santa Monica’s Ocean Front Walk shows the plane hovering over the famous pier while descending rapidly over bathers dipping their feet in the water.
The plane lands hard in shallow water and its tail bounces off its nose before immediately landing on its back, the video shows.
Firefighters evacuated two people from the overturned plane, one of whom was in cardiac arrest, authorities said. Driver status is unknown.
Minter was elected to the Santa Monica council in 1955 and served as mayor from 1963 to 1967, according to the city. He later served as the Arcadia City Attorney and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge.
He and his wife Doris met in Santa Monica High School before serving in the US Marines and opened a law firm in Santa Monica after graduating from law school, the city said.
Current Mayor of Santa Monica, Gleam Davis said that she had spoken with Minter’s family and conveyed the town’s condolences.