Crash probe continues
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.