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North County husband and father dies in Guatemala plane crash

Posted at 10:47 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 09:12:15-04

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (KGTV) — A fiery plane crash in Guatemala left a North County family without a husband and father.

Luke Sullivan, 28, was killed after his plane crashed near Chimaltenango, located northwest of Guatemala City.

Luke's wife, Ashley, says they had recently moved there three weeks ago, after Luke got his dream job, as a missionary pilot. He was working with a group operating in Guatemala. Luke would fly missionary personnel to various villages. He was working to become a missionary himself to speak to the different communities.

His plane went down on Thursday, June 27. Ashley says he was making a landing, but something went wrong.

"We were waiting for him, because it looked like he was just going to turn around, making a go-around approach," she said. "I hear an explosion and see more smoke."

Emergency crews pulled Luke out of the plane before it exploded. His passenger had jumped out of the plane. Both men were severely burned. Luke was taken to the hospital but died overnight.

His passenger survived and is currently being treated at a burn center in Dallas.

"Luke was an extremely good pilot, and very experienced," Ashley said. She says he's been flying for more than nine years. "What we kind of pieced together — my father is a pilot also — is that something caught fire in the cockpit. It was very quick because I saw his landing and it looked perfectly normal."

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The Sullivans have three young children, twins that are three years old, and a one year old. His wife is also five months pregnant.

The family has started a GoFundMe for funeral expenses.

They've also started a GoFundMe to help pay for the family of the other man in the crash, to help pay for his hospital bills.