A man killed in a weekend plane crash in Forsyth County was identified as a Gwinnett County flight instructor.
Ernesto Antonio Arteaga-Membreno, 28, of Grayson, died at the scene Saturday afternoon after a single-engine prop plane went down in the area of Browns Bridge Road and Waldrip Circle, Forsyth County sheriff’s Cpl. Doug Rainwater said Monday in a statement.
Arteaga-Membreno was a part-time instructor for The Flight School of Gwinnett, Channel 2 Action News reported. The flight school’s operations director, Gary Stone, told the news station that Arteaga-Membreno was a mechanic for Delta Air Lines who moved from California late last year.
“We consider ourselves a family, and we've lost one of the members of our family,” Stone told Channel 2. “That's kind of tough.”
The plane’s other occupants — student pilots Litsu Chen, 30, of Lawrenceville, and Shen Yang Wu, 25, of Duluth — were taken to a nearby hospital for their injuries. Chen remained in the hospital Monday.
The plane had just taken off around 5 p.m., and Rainwater said “we can speculate” that the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing on Browns Bridge Road but collided with the rear of a car.
The occupants of the car were not injured. Their names were not released.
“The plane was smoking as it started making circles around the cul-de-sac, and then the engine started to sputter on and off,” witness Cherie Simonds told Channel 2. She said the plane then went silent and crashed.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
Stone said the young instructor will be missed.
“He wanted to do some flying and continue teaching, so we hired him,” Stone said. “And he also was a mechanic, so he knew a lot about aircraft.”
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