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Vigil honors victims lost in El Cajon plane crash

Posted at 10:49 PM, Jan 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 02:31:12-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — The community is still mourning the loss of four first responders that were killed during a plane crash Monday in El Cajon.

A vigil to remember Laurie Gentz, Christina Ward, Douglas Grande, and Julian Bugaj filled the property across the street from the crash site.

“They were true heroes with how many lives they saved with how they had to go down," said Brandy Kelly.

As she reflected on the lives lost so close to home, she is grateful.

“Our house is in the direct flight path and at the last minute they ended up swerving around and coming around this way and hitting into the street when they could’ve gone straight into my bedroom and my daughter’s bedroom. They saved our family’s life and our home," she explained.

On December 27, an Aeromedevac Air ambulance crashed across the street from her home killing everyone on board.

“We actually saw the big ball of orange go off and it shook the whole house. I know my kids were scared to death and then to come out and see the flames flying up— all the smoke. My heart dropped. I thought everything was right up in there. It was the scariest time ever,” she said.

Although Kelly never met the first responders, she didn’t think twice when their loved ones wanted to hold the vigil on her property.

“They’ll live on in our hearts and memories just of what they did for us and this street because it could’ve been so much worse than what it was,” she said.

As she blows out the candles lit in honor of the crew, she leaves a message for the families of her heroes.

“I am so so sorry for your loss, but I appreciate what your family members did for us in saving my family and letting me still have my children here with me,” said Kelly.

The crash is still under investigation.