By Rebecca Guterman
MONTGOMERY COUNTY SENTINEL
The National Transportation Safety Board has taken the first steps in investigating a plane crash June 25 that killed the pilot and all eight passengers, including two North Potomac residents.
Glenda Cambiaso, 31, and Hugo Cambiaso, 65, were two of the passengers aboard the sightseeing plane that was on its way back to Ketchikan as part of a combined cruise/flight trip, according to the NTSB preliminary report released July 7.
Glenda Cambiaso was a social worker in child welfare for the county and a wonderful person, according to her supervisor, Dorne Hill.
“She went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure her family had their basic needs met. She gathered up toys, food, clothing, car seats, strollers, any type of need that a child may have from her relatives and neighbors and friends and disseminated them across not just her clients but the agency as a whole,” Hill said. “She treated these children and families like they were her own.”
Cambiaso had worked at the department for almost seven years, first as an intern and then as a full-time hire, and Hill worked with her the whole time.
“She was the first person here and the last person to leave,” Hill said. “We’re shocked and saddened … it’s a huge loss not just for us but for her families. … Her clients loved her and appreciated her.”
Hill also said Glenda and her father sang in the church choir and spent a lot of time together.
“They were extremely close,” she said.
The investigation into the crash is still ongoing, and NTSB cannot yet determine a cause for the crash, according to NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway.
Investigators said in the NTSB report the single-engine de Havilland DHC-3 (Otter) plane crashed into a tree-covered mountain about 24 miles northeast of Ketchikan. The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, along with Alaska State Troopers and others, conducted the rescue efforts, according to trooper dispatch reports.
There are also a number of factors that could have caused the crash, according to attorney Gary Robb, and it is hard to know until the investigation is complete. Robb, an attorney based in Missouri, has represented families of victims in aviation crashes before, including a different type of de Havilland Otter plane that crashed in 2006 in Missouri.
He said NTSB will look at the aircraft itself, the experience of the pilot and any evidence of intoxication, and visibility and weather conditions – what Robb said experts call “the man, the machine and the environment.”
But, Robb said, the engine of this aircraft has a good reputation, as does the aircraft itself.
“If there’s a 500-piece puzzle, we’ve got 10 pieces now,” Robb said. “I would not even hazard a guess (at the cause).”
NTSB also seemed to respond as quickly as it could, and Robb said the organization would likely make it a priority given the number of fatalities. The next step is to find the cause to prevent future crashes.
“Nothing these investigators do will bring these folks back, but hopefully something that they do will prevent a similar tragedy in the future,” Robb said.
In his 35 years of working in this field, Robb said, he has seen case after case make a difference. NTSB previously discovered a problem with old Boeing engines, for example, and they have not caused a crash since, according to Robb.
He also said he does not know if any families of victims in this case will sue, but that also entices companies to produce good products.
“It’s part of the system that induces people to exercise care because of the threat of lawsuits. We’ve seen over and over again internal memoranda from companies (that say) ‘We better make this part safer, or else we’ll face litigation,’” Robb said.
But for him, it comes back to the human aspect of the crash.
“My heart goes out to these families, and I’m hopeful they’ll find out what happened,” he said.
The other victims of the crash were Rowland Hal Cheney, 71, and Mary Doucette, 59, both of Lodi, California; June Kranenburg, 73, and Leonard Kranenburg, 63, both of Medford, Oregon; Margie Apodaca, 63, and Raymond Apodaca, 70, both of Sparks, Nevada; and pilot Bryan Krill, 64 of Hope, Idaho.