Lake Tahoe private jet crash: Pilot and golf pro turned real estate developer among six victims

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Four of the six victims that died in a fatal plane crash in Lake Tahoe on Monday have been identified as Coachella, California residents – including a pilot, a former golf professional and a young married couple.

The Bombardier CL 600 twin-engine jet they were flying in crashed just a few blocks from a runway Monday afternoon as the pilot was trying to land at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, and set off a fiery explosion.

All six people on board were pronounced dead, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Wednesday, and were identified using DNA evidence, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Four of those victims have now been identified as:  Bret Ebaugh, the pilot; Kevin Kvarnlov, a former golf instructor turned real-estate agent; and Ryan and Christine Thomas, a young married couple, KESQ reports.

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Bret Ebaugh was identified as the pilot in the fatal crash on Monday

Bret Ebaugh was identified as the pilot in the fatal crash on Monday

Kevin Kvarnlov, second from right, a former golf instructor turned real-estate agent was one of the people killed in the crash, according to Hideaway Properties

Kevin Kvarnlov, second from right, a former golf instructor turned real-estate agent was one of the people killed in the crash, according to Hideaway Properties

A private jet crashed and exploded into a fireball near a golf course in Truckee, California, on Monday killing all six people on board

A private jet crashed and exploded into a fireball near a golf course in Truckee, California, on Monday killing all six people on board

Images of the scene show flaming debris in the immediate aftermath of the crash, which occurred in a populated area

The crash sparked a small wildfire which was quickly extinguished officials said

Images of the scene show flaming debris in the immediate aftermath of the crash, which occurred in a populated area 

Ebaugh was confirmed dead by his wife, Lisa Hollerbach-Ebaugh, who posted on Facebook: ‘It is with tremendous sadness that I share Bret Ebaugh, my love, was lost in a horrific crash on Monday near Tahoe.

‘To me, he was my best friend, my lover,’ she wrote in the post, which was made public by Kevin Mussat. ‘To his kids, a one-of-a-kind amazing, funny,  adventure-seeking dad. To his friends and colleagues, an all-around good guy and the best damn pilot anyone would be fortunate to fly with.

‘Thank you to all who have reached out,’ she wrote. ‘Your love and support during this time means everything.

‘I’m not sure how we’re supposed to do life without you, Bret,’ she concluded. ‘I love you, forever.’

Soon, others started sharing their own memories of Ebaugh.

Robin Swartz, for example, wrote how she met up with him in Seattle a few years ago and he treated her and her husband ‘to a wonderful time in the city.’

‘As the trip to Seattle was my first flight ever, you allowed me to inundate you with every question I had about flying and calmed my nerves,’ she wrote on Facebook. ‘It was obvious that you absolutely loved your job as a pilot.’ 

Noah Wever also wrote that Ebaugh was a ‘very good friend of mine at the Home Depot’ where they worked together before Ebaugh became a pilot.

‘Everyday I worked with you and something wasn’t going right, you would always say something that would make me laugh and keep me going,’ Wever said. ‘I can’t believe this is real.’

‘Thank you for all of your humor and sharing amazing stories with me, keeping me motivated with my future endeavors in EMS, always inspiring me to reach further into my aspirations. I wish I could’ve played disc golf with you my friend.

‘You always lived life hard, you are deeply missed and there is a special place in my heart for you. Hopefully I will see you again, my friend.

‘Fly high, Bret Ebaugh.’

His wife confirmed his death on Facebook, and Kevin Mussat made her post public

His wife confirmed his death on Facebook, and Kevin Mussat made her post public

Soon, others started posting tributes and sharing memories of their time with Ebaugh

Soon, others started posting tributes and sharing memories of their time with Ebaugh

Hideaway Properties, a private golf community in La Quinta, also confirmed in an email to its members that its real-estate agent Kevin Kvarnlov and residents Ryan and Christine Thomas were killed in the crash, KESQ reports.

The email explained that Kvarnlov was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, but ‘he grew up knowing he always wanted to get out of the cold, and find warmer weather.’

He moved to Coachella in 2011 to pursue a career as a golf professional, and spent nine years on the professional staff at The Palms Golf Club and The Plantation Golf Club before he began his real-estate career.

In 2019, he joined Hideaway Properties as a real estate and membership associate.

‘The Hideaway Properties team is struggling to deal with the loss of our beloved coworker and friend, Kevin Kvarnlov, and appreciate your understanding during this difficult time, Robert Ravis, director of real estate for Hideaway, wrote in the email. 

Few details have been reported on the Thomas’.

The private jet they were traveling on took off from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at 11,45 am Monday, according to court records, and originally flew from Van Nuys to Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal before heading out to Reno and then to Idaho.

It was turning to land at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport in Northern California at around 1.20pm, when it went down in a wooded area near the Ponderosa Golf Course, landing between two houses and narrowly avoiding a school bus.

Before it crashed, the pilot, now identified as Ebaugh, old air traffic controllers that he would need to circle the airport runway before his final approach, according to a recording of the conversation.

‘We look forward to seeing you guys,’ he said in the recording, before reporting that he had the runway in sight. 

The crash set off a small forest fire, which authorities were able to put out quickly.

No one on the ground was injured, authorities said.

The plane took off at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho at 11.45am on Monday and was headed for the Truckee-Tahoe Airport in Northern California when it crashed

The plane took off at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at 11.45am on Monday and was headed for the Truckee-Tahoe Airport in Northern California when it crashed

Airport officials described the scene as a 'heavily wooded area,' although residents said it is a 'heavily residential neighborhood'

Airport officials described the scene as a ‘heavily wooded area,’ although residents said it is a ‘heavily residential neighborhood’

But at a Truckee-Tahoe Airport District board meeting on Wednesday afternoon, residents said Monday’s fatal crash was the second one to occur near homes in roughly two months, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Some said they were upset that airport officials described the scene of the crash as a ‘heavily wooded area,’ instead calling it a ‘heavily residential neighborhood.’

Others also said they were worried planes may crash into their homes, with one man, who identified himself as a firefighter who responded to the scene on Monday as a civilian, saying, ‘had the weather conditions been different, that fireball would have been a significant event for this community.’

He reportedly added that the crash was just 30 feet from a home.

‘We are very fortunate that the plane went down between areas that were defendable and wouldn’t burn,’ the firefighter said. ‘We’re also extremely lucky that the plane didn’t hit a school bus full of sixth-graders.

‘Something needs to change,’ he said. ‘This can’t continue.’

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that two of its investigators were continuing to investigate the crash.

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