Crash probe con­tin­ues

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Ja­son Pohl Reach the re­porter at 602-444-8515, jpohl@az­cen­ or on Twit­ter: @pohl_­ja­son.

A plane ap­proaches Scotts­dale Air­port on Tues­day, above the site of a Mon­day crash that killed six peo­ple. The probe of that wreck is fo­cus­ing on whether the craft was equipped to carry that many peo­ple.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing to de­ter­mine whether a small air­plane that crashed on a Scotts­dale golf course, killing all six aboard, was equipped to carry that many peo­ple, in­clud­ing three whose iden­ti­fies were con­firmed by The

Ari­zona Repub­lic, of­fi­cials said Tues­day af­ter­noon.

“Right now, it’s some­thing we’re try­ing to find out,” said Eliott Simp­son, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor with the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board, dur­ing a news briefing near where the Piper PA-24 crashed Mon­day night shortly af­ter take­off from Scotts­dale Air­port. The NTSB is lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The iden­ti­ties of those killed in the Mon­day night crash had not been of­fi­cially re­leased by in­ves­ti­ga­tors as of Tues­day evening, pend­ing for­mal fam­ily no­ti­fi­ca­tion, of­fi­cials said. They did not have a time­line for when their names would be for­mally an­nounced, Scotts­dale po­lice said in a state­ment.

How­ever, wide­spread ac­counts of some of the vic­tims were cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia.

The Repub­lic on Tues­day ver­i­fied through fam­ily or friends the iden­ti­ties of three vic­tims whose trip to Scotts­dale ended in tragedy.

Anand Pa­tel was “an en­trepreneur with lots of en­ergy and lots of charisma,” his twin brother, Akash Pa­tel, told

The Repub­lic. The two came to the U.S. from In­dia in 2009 to at­tend col­lege.

“Anand” trans­lates to “hap­pi­ness.” So, Akash Pa­tel said, his brother was widely known by the name “Happy.”

An Ok­la­homa res­i­dent, Happy co­founded a cloth­ing line and worked as an event pro­moter, fly­ing coast to coast with friends and clients on trips that of­ten in­cluded stops in Scotts­dale.

“My brother was taken away from us do­ing what he loved to do the most, which was spend­ing time with his friends and fly­ing,” Akash Pa­tel said, adding that he lived a “celebrity life” as an “In­sta­gram star.”

Mariah Coogan, another per­son on the plane, was an eques­trian and horse trainer who left high school in 2012 to pur­sue mod­el­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, said Gra­ham Rutherford, prin­ci­pal of Car­di­nal New­man High School in Santa Rosa, Cal­i­for­nia, who learned of the woman’s death Tues­day.

“She was ea­ger for ad­ven­ture, and I al­ways found her easy to speak with,” Rutherford told The Repub­lic. “She got on well with many stu­dents, too.”

Coogan, who con­tin­ued pur­su­ing mod­el­ing, was vis­it­ing the Val­ley for the Phoenix Lights Fes­ti­val, ac­cord­ing to a post Satur­day on her In­sta­gram pro­file. “For­got my sun­nies” she wrote in a cap­tion for a photo of her wear­ing a new pair of avi­a­tors for her nearly 27,000 fol­low­ers.

Her mother, Stacey Coogan, told the

Santa Rosa Press-Demo­crat in Cal­i­for­nia she also learned of the crash Tues­day morn­ing.

On Mon­day night, Mariah Coogan had posted a photo of the plane, the words “Off to Ve­gas” across the bot­tom along with a check-in at Scotts­dale Air­port. Once in the cabin, she recorded a video show­ing the group to­gether, smil­ing and en­joy­ing the mo­ment, ap­par­ently min­utes be­fore the plane crashed into the golf course and burst into flames.

Also on board was James Pe­droza, who worked as a VIP host at a gay night­club at the Mi­rage in Las Ve­gas. He was an “ally to the LGBTQ com­mu­nity,” his friend and co-worker, Gar­rett Pat­tiani, told The Repub­lic.

“I am sad that he is gone, but loved how he lived life to the fullest. He was want­ing to see the world and travel. He will be missed,” Pat­tiani said. “He never judged any­one and was al­ways there to stand up for equal rights.”

Pe­droza de­scribed him­self as an “avid trav­eler” and posted on In­sta­gram that he was look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing his 37th coun­try. He re­cently trav­eled to Lake Ta­hoe and posed next to the plane that crashed Mon­day, a plane that he said he bought a share in last sum­mer. In­ves­ti­ga­tors, how­ever, have not con­firmed that he was pi­lot­ing the air­craft when it crashed.


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