UPDATE: Investigation Into Cause of OC Plane Crash Reveals Oddities In Pilot's Background

Feb 5, 2019

YORBA LINDA (CNS) - The 75-year-old pilot and Nevada restaurant owner
whose small plane broke apart and crashed into a Yorba Linda home, killing him
and four people inside the residence, was carrying what authorities suspect are
fake credentials identifying him as a retired Chicago police officer, officials
said today.
   The 1981 twin-engine Cessna 414A piloted by Antonio Pastini of
Gardnerville, Nevada, nose-dived onto the 19000 block of Crestknoll Drive at
1:45 p.m. Sunday, about 10 minutes after departing from Fullerton Municipal
Airport, according to National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Eliott
Simpson.
   Sheriff's deputies at the crash scene found a Chicago Police
Department badge and retirement papers on the pilot, according to Orange County
Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun.
   After consulting with Chicago police Monday night, it appears the
credentials may have been fake, according to Braun.
   ``The indications they gave us last night is they have no record of
Antonio Pastini as a retired police officer and the credentials do not appear
to be legitimate,'' she said.
   Sheriff's officials were waiting further word from Chicago police, who
were continuing to investigate the matter, Braun said.
   An investigation was also continuing into the cause of the fiery crash.
   Radar data indicate the plane made a left turn and climbed 7,800 feet
before crashing into the two-story home, leaving the cabin in a ravine behind
the house and debris scattered over four blocks, Simpson said.
   Pastini, who was flying solo, died at the scene, along with two men
and two women inside the house, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Cory Martino said.
The bodies of the four occupants of the home were badly burned, and they have
yet to be positively identified.
   Two injured victims were hospitalized with moderate burn injuries, and
one firefighter suffered a minor ankle injury.
   NTSB investigator Maja Smith told reporters that many witnesses
reported seeing the plane's wings and tail fall off before it crashed.
   NTSB investigators combed the neighborhood gathering evidence and
picking up the pieces of the aircraft, which were to be taken to a storage
facility in Phoenix for further examination.
   A preliminary crash report will be available in 10-14 days, Simpson said.
   Torrance resident Julia Ackley, one of the pilot's daughters, told the
Los Angeles Times that her father was a veteran pilot who regularly flew to
Southern California to visit her and other family members.
   She told NBC4 that she left a message for her dad on Sunday night
``and asked him to call me when he got home safely; the only call I got was
from the sheriff's department.''
   ``He's been flying for over 50 years and this was a horrible tragedy
and a freak accident,'' she told Channel 4.
   She said her father had four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
   On Pastini's Facebook account on Jan. 27, he discussed his volunteer
work with Angel Flight, which provides airplane rides for the needy to get to
doctor appointments.
   ``Now I want to help more of those who need help, so I have an idea,''
he wrote. ``You want to go flying? Want an easy trip somewhere? Coordinate
with me so we can take a child for treatment or bring medicine or blood
somewhere where it will save a life. Pay for the fuel and together I will take
you where you want to go and we can help way more people. If you just save one
person isn't it worth it, and this way we can save many.''
   In a Nov. 26, 2008, Nevada Appeal news article about a restaurant that
Pastini owned at the time called Carson City Diner & Catering, he told the
newspaper that he had retired after 21 years on the Chicago police force.
   ``I loved it,'' he said. ``I loved my friends, I loved where I lived,
I loved Mayor (Richard J.) Daley.''
   Pastini told the newspaper that after he retired, he moved to northern
Nevada to get into the food industry, where he worked as a child with his
mother, a chef.
   His first restaurant, he said, was Chicago Express in Reno in 1986.
   ``A couple of cops came by and found out I used to be a cop too, and
it became a cop hangout,'' Pastini said.
   The newspaper reported he opened three more locations and then sold
out in the late 1990s after he was diagnosed with cancer. When he recovered, he
got back into the restaurant business, the newspaper reported.
   At the time of his death, he owned Kim Lee's Japanese Restaurant and
Sushi Bar. An employee who answered the phone at the eatery on Monday declined
comment, citing the family's wishes.
   A candlelight vigil in memory of the crash victims will be held at
7:30 p.m. Thursday at Glenknoll Elementary School, 6361 Glenknoll Drive,
according to Yorba Linda city officials.

CNS-02-05-2019 13:26