Mexico plane crash kills 4 on medical aid mission

A light plane carrying four U.S. citizens on a medical aid flight crashed in Baja California, killing all four aboard, Mexican authorities said Sunday.

The Beechcraft A36 was on a flight from Ensenada to San Quintin when it disappeared Friday. Searchers found the plane Saturday in rough terrain about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Ensenada, said Victor Jones, president of the Flying Samaritans organization.

Baja California state’s civil protection director, Alfredo Escobedo, said the plane apparently hit a 3,900-foot (1,200-meter) hill and then slid down to a mesa. He said authorities had recovered three bodies and were working to remove the fourth from the wreckage.

Those aboard were all from California — pilot Roger Lyon of Cayucos, Drs. Graciela Sarmiento and James Thornton of Arroyo Grande and medic Andrew Thiel, a student in San Luis Obispo.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported that Lyon was a leading attorney for the Hearst newspaper family and recently worked on the deal to preserve the 82,000-acre Hearst Ranch that was built by late media magnate William Randolph Hearst in San Simeon.

Thornton was a plastic surgeon who had been with the Flying Samaritans for 20 years, making two trips annually to treat people with such conditions as cleft palates, disfiguring burns or clubbed hands, the newspaper said. Sarmiento practiced medicine at a community health center and Thiel was a biology student who hoped to attend medical school.

The Flying Samaritans is an all-volunteer organization that transports medical personnel to at least 17 clinics in Baja California.

Escobedo said the plane that went down was one of three on a mission from the San Luis Obispo area.

Source: Associated Press