DATELAND, AZ — A pilot and a passenger are dead after a plane crashed Friday in southwestern Arizona.
The Yuma County Sheriff's Office says just before 2 p.m. Friday, a DPS trooper saw a large plume of smoke while patrolling Spot Road and Interstate 8 near Dateland, Arizona.
The trooper arrived at the scene and found a small aircraft in the desert fully engulfed in flames.
Officials were called to the scene, where they located a pilot and passenger who were pronounced dead.
The aircraft has been identified as a Van's RV-6 two-seater plane.
Family contacted ABC15, saying the two who died were 61-year-old Ron Barba and 47-year-old Marcela Orozco Barba. The Yuma County Sheriff's Office has since confirmed the victim's identities.
“All the family is in shock,” said Marcela’s cousin, Angela Duran. “We are all in shock because I guess you never plan for an accident to happen.”
Duran said Sunday she was supposed to see her cousin Marcela, who’s originally from Nogales, and her husband Ron.
“They were going to come down to Nogales on the private aircraft he had bought,” said Duran. “He had bought that one a few months ago they were super excited.”
Duran said the pair was the perfect couple.
Marcela didn’t have any kids, but Ron’s daughter told ABC15 he had four.
“Crazy, but perfect,” said Duran.
Over the phone, she told ABC15 that the couple had already flown the plane multiple times and Ron was an experienced pilot.
Angela said she found out Saturday, after getting a message from Ron’s daughter.
“As of now they don’t really know what happened or why the plane crashed,” said Duran.
Just 24 hours later, she said her family is in indescribable pain.
“She was my confidant even though she was far away we would talk over the phone,” said Duran. “We would worry about each other.”
As two families grieve, Duran said they realize each day isn’t promised.
“We fight over things that are not important not realizing if we are going to wake up tomorrow,” said Duran.
The cause of the crash is not yet known.
The plane had departed from San Diego and was headed to Nogales, according to YCSO.
The FAA and NTSB have been contacted and are investigating the crash.