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One-year anniversary of deadly plane crash into Santee neighborhood

Couple seriously injured in crash begins rebuild on same site
One-year anniversary of deadly plane crash into Santee neighborhood
Posted at 4:29 PM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 20:32:10-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - Family members of the elderly couple severely injured when a small plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood one year ago say they continue to recover and have begun to rebuild.

On that day, Phil, 76, and Maria Morris, 75, were sitting in the living room of their home on Greencastle Street when they felt the explosion of the plane crash, as fire blew into their home.

Maria was pulled out of a window by neighbors, while Phil ran out the back.

Both suffered second-degree and third-degree burns.

“This weekend, you could tell their demeanor has been more somber than normal,” said their son, Jim Slaff.

Slaff says the anniversary has been difficult.

“Understand, when you go through something like that, you’ve got some level of PTSD,” said Staff.

The couple's road to recovery has been tough.

Maria suffered burns on about 10% of her body, including her face and hands. Last week, a pinky finger was amputated. Remarkably, the avid bowler had resumed bowling.

“She comes back and says, ‘I’m doing so good!’ It’s just that you can't stop her,” said Slaff.

Slaff says his mom has the same attitude that's helped her beat cancer five times.

“She smiles. She laughs. She talks to people, and that's just who she is,’ said Slaff.

Maria's husband, Phil, with burns on 30% of his body, suffered complications and was on a ventilator for months.

“He’s walking out the door and doing things, and being very independent. That's amazing,” said Slaff.

Phil is also taking an active role in the rebuilding process, at the same site. Construction on the home began about six weeks ago. It's expected to be competed early next year.

“That's their independence right there. I venture to say. they’re super excited. Their life is starting to get to somewhat normal for them … gives them hope,” said Slaff.

Also giving them hope was a community reaching out to help for the past year, from fundraisers to get-well cards.

“The fact that the community pitched in as a whole to help strangers was so moving and heartwarming … It’s amazing that something so good comes out of something so terrible,” said Slaff.

Slaff says another remarkable thing that's come from the tragedy: the friendships formed, including with the other neighbors that lost their home, and the family of the UPS driver killed.