A Good Samaritan who rushed to the aid of two people after a small airplane crashed in a shopping center parking lot in Kearny Mesa, San Diego, said he reacted quickly because he wasn’t about to watch two people die before his eyes.
“We ran over and stopped and saw [the plane] was on fire. Then we saw the people inside and we thought, ‘We’re not going to watch two people burn alive.’ That’s when [we] ran over to do what we could,” witness Robert Sears, 24, told NBC 7 on Friday.
Sears – an employee at the Costco Business Center on Convoy Street, a building located right next to the site of the plane crash – had arrived at work on Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. and was talking with a friend when they suddenly heard the crash.
When he ran into the parking lot of the shopping center, Sears saw the wreckage of the fixed wing, single-engine Mooney M20L, which had landed near parked cars but away from the main entrances to stores.
The aircraft had missed bystanders on the ground, but a pilot and her passenger remained inside.
Sears said someone handed his friend a fire extinguisher and as his friend sprayed the plane, they both tried repeatedly to open the aircraft’s only door, located on the passenger side of the plane.
When it finally opened, the men were able to get the passenger’s seat belt unfastened and get her out of the plane.
But they still had to get the pilot out, which proved difficult given the position of the door.
“There was still fire and everything. My buddy, Roy, he kept spraying. There were people on the other side of the airplane who were able to reach their arms inside the window and get the [pilot’s] seat belt undone. I was able to get halfway into the cockpit and then get her out,” Sears recounted.
“There were people behind me, so when I pulled her out they were able to take her and carry her to the sidewalk,” he continued.
With bandages on his hands covering his second-degree burns, Sears said he could not have helped save the women from the wreckage alone.
On Friday, NBC 7 spoke at length with the pilot’s husband, who said Devon had undergone more surgery and was still recovering at the hospital. He said his wife’s injuries included a broken ankle, knee and tibia, as well as cuts and bruises.
The husband told NBC 7 that Devon is aware that she didn’t hurt any bystanders with her crash landing, but feels guilt about Gorian’s death. Gorian was Devon’s mother, her husband said.
The husband, who was too grief-stricken to go on camera, said the people who helped his family, including Sears, are the ones who should be getting the attention. He’s extremely thankful to all of the Good Samaritans who stepped in to help and hopes to connect with the heroes in person.
Sears said he would love to meet the Logans someday and wishes nothing but the best for Devon as she recovers.
“I just hope she gets better. I hope she’s okay and her family [is okay] because of everything,” he added. “I’d love to see her.”
The plane crash remains under investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) taking the lead.