News

Three die in plane crash, including East Palo Alto steel-supply firm founder Bob Borrmann

Bob Borrmann, founder of Borrmann's Steel Co. after World War II, believed dead

At least three people were killed, including one believed to be the founder of an East Palo Alto steel company, in a plane crash in Redwood Shores Thursday afternoon.

A woman's body was recovered from a lagoon just north of Twin Dolphin Drive, where the small plane crashed at about 11:50 a.m.. Two bodies were still trapped this afternoon at the bottom of the lagoon under the wreckage, fire Battalion Chief Dave Pucci said.

The bodies were still lying on the bottom of the lagoon in about five or six feet of water as of about 4 p.m., Pucci said.

He said the plane's position made it impossible to determine the genders of the other two victims, but an employee at R.E. Borrmann's Steel Co. said it is believed the company's founder, Bob Borrmann, was on the plane when it went down.

"It's a tragedy to lose three lives like this," Pucci said.

An article posted on the company's website from the online magazine In Flight USA identifies Borrmann, who is in his 90s, as a World War II veteran who founded the steel company after the war.

The twin-engine Beech 65 Queen Air had taken off from the nearby San Carlos Airport and was headed to San Martin, Pucci said.

It crashed into the water about 30 seconds after taking off, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The article on the steel company's website says Borrmann bought a Beech Queen Air that once belonged to the king of Denmark.

Firefighters responded to the crash and found an approximately 40-year-old woman in the water near the wreckage. She was taken to shore and pronounced dead, Pucci said.

A dive team from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office arrived at the scene shortly before 1 p.m. to search the water, he said.

The other two bodies won't be recovered until representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board are able to investigate the crash.

Board officials were on their way from Seattle this afternoon, Pucci said. Their full investigation will likely take at least 24 hours, but it's not clear when in the process the bodies can be removed.

He said the investigation was going to be muddy and complicated.

The U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Game are also responding to the crash to assess any environmental damage.

Officials said a little bit of fuel has leaked from the plane, but it didn't prevent divers from going in.

Steve Hornstra, owner of Steve's Cafe and Catering on Twin Dolphin Drive, said he was returning from a delivery run to nearby office buildings when he heard a loud airplane engine.

"I looked up because this plane was maybe three or four times louder than normal," he said.

"It was a bigger plane," Hornstra said. "It wasn't one of those two-seaters."

He said the aircraft wasn't sputtering or smoking but looked like it was "struggling to get elevation." It veered to the left then the right, he said.

"Then it just kind of took a nose dive, and kind of made a half turn," Hornstra said.

The plane disappeared from view behind some buildings and Hornstra said he heard a thud.

Joanna Lubas was sitting at her desk at an office building at 303 Twin Dolphin Drive when she saw the plane hit the water.

She left the office and headed toward the crash site in the diamond-shaped lagoon, which is lined by office parks and a number of homes.

"When I first got here there were people, I think from these houses, getting into the water," Lubas said.

Rod Cardinale, a paralegal at Grathwohl, Rauch and Cohen on the nearby Marine Parkway, went outside to see what was happening after hearing a "boom" sound.

"I just saw the airplane in the water upside-down with one of the wings sticking out of the water," he said.

Cardinale said several boaters made their way over to the plane and some dove into the water to try to help the occupants.

As of about 1:15 p.m., the plane was nearly fully submerged in the lagoon. A wing was visible under the water. A sheriff's rescue boat was headed toward the aircraft.

What appeared to be seats from the airplane were floating nearby.

Bob Wood, a flight instructor at Diamond Aviation, said he had seen the plane depart from the San Carlos Airport.

"I really enjoyed watching the plane take off - it sounds like an airplane used to sound like, really throaty," Wood said.

"So when I heard it went down it was very, very shocking," he said. "It was as normal takeoff with normal altitude."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 1:39 am

I hope the rescuers realize this is the same lagoon that just had the sewage spill. I hope they get a good checkup soon.

qq


Like this comment
Posted by wow
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 3, 2010 at 2:31 am

you do know that planes from palo alto airport still take off to the left towards the EPA houses...


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

actually they take off towards the sky...


Like this comment
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Who was flying the plane? Surely not the 91 year old man, I hope.
God rest their souls.


Like this comment
Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2010 at 2:07 am

•••••

Musical--

Nicely done


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

Arnold asks:"Who was flying the plane? Surely not the 91 year old man, I hope."

Evidently the owner was a licensed and very experienced pilot who was no longer medically qualified to fly as pilot in command. He was accompanied by a qualified flight instructor who would have been pilot in command. We will never know who was actually flying the plane.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2010 at 9:13 am

Peter

Surely if the bodies were still in the plane when the wreckage was removed, they can tell who was flying the plane from where they were situated?

Also, I would be interested in hearing your comments as to why the pilot's girlfriend had been able to get out and was found in the water while the other two were still in the plane. Does this mean that she was still alive after the plane hit the water and was able to get out and the other two weren't, or does this point to something else? I know that this is only your hunch, but it has been on my mind.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 4, 2010 at 10:59 am

Resident asks:"Surely if the bodies were still in the plane when the wreckage was removed, they can tell who was flying the plane from where they were situated?"

IF the bodies of the two pilots were found in the left and right front seats it would be impossible to know which was flying as the plane had flight controls on both the left side and the right side.

IF one of them was found in the back seat he may have died making an heroic attempt to get the female passenger out.

I doubt that the NTSB will be able to make a determination as to who was flying the plane. And it is entirely possible that the right engine failed just as they were making a right turn - that would be very tricky to recover from at low altitude.


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

"I doubt that the NTSB will be able to make a determination as to who was flying the plane". Very true, but I can certainly make a determination that general aviation airports should never be located near residential areas. How much longer are we going to ride our 9 lives with the San Carlos and Palo Alto airports? The next one or the one after that will end up in a house(s)/office building/school/child-care center, you pick one.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

Daniel states:"I can certainly make a determination that general aviation airports should never be located near residential areas."
The number of people on the ground killed by airplane crashes is so low that the data is simply not recorded.

However, in 2008 5,282 pedestrians and pedalcyclists were killed by cars - should we ban streets in residential areas?

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm

What an unfortunate waste - of precious lives, previous fuel & precious funds now investigating this crash. I'm glad no one else was injured or killed.


Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2010 at 9:41 pm

400,000+ Americans die prematurely from smoking related diseases every year-- not counting the kids who suffer from second hand smoke or those who die in home fires from smoking.
Lets put risk in perspective and data-- not delusion


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

Streets in residential areas have legal speed limits and stop signs. Small airplanes buzz for no reason over my neighborhood, which is at least a mile from the PA airport for no reason except showing off and jock machismo without any consequences to the flyboys. There is no alternative at this point to driving for daily transportation, but general aviation airports in the back yard of residential areas are unnecessary and dangerous luxury. As far as statistics, as far as I know, no car has ever crashed into a house on the street where the small plane nearly took out a child care center.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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