Six Houses Away

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Six Houses Away

Firefighters and other emergency responders arrive on the scene of the plane crash.

Firefighters and other emergency responders arrive on the scene of the plane crash.

Natalie Nelson

Firefighters and other emergency responders arrive on the scene of the plane crash.

Natalie Nelson

Natalie Nelson

Firefighters and other emergency responders arrive on the scene of the plane crash.

By Caitlyn Truong, Yorba Linda High School

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On the rainy afternoon of February 3, a small plane crashed in a neighborhood near Glenknoll Elementary in Yorba Linda. Five were killed, including the pilot of the plane and four residents of the home it crashed into. Along with the complete destruction of the plane and house, the resulting fire, while physically extinguished hours after the crash, continues to burn through the hearts of those near the tragedy.

For one particular family, the plane crash was especially shocking that day. The Carrigg’s live six houses away from the house that was struck by the plane and four houses away from where the engine crashed. Maddi Carrigg, 15, “couldn’t have been more than 30 yards away from the crash when it happened.” She and her younger brother, Jacob Carrigg, were relaxing in their jacuzzi at the time of the crash. Their parents, Joshua Carrigg and Natalie Nelson, “were having a conversation in our den, which is located in the back of our home that faces south. This was the general direction the plane was coming from.”

Mr. Carrigg, Maddi, and Jacob have graciously shared their experiences below.

What was the crash like?

Mr. Carrigg: I wasn’t able to see it from where I was sitting, but it was very loud and paralyzing. The best way I can describe it is unbelievable, like something out of a movie. It was like sitting in an IMAX theater with your eyes closed: the sound of the plane going down at a high rate of speed, the thunderous sound when it broke apart and the ground-shaking booms as it hit our neighbors’ houses.

Maddi: I heard the plane before I saw it. At first, it just sounded like a normal plane at a lower altitude, but it kept getting louder and louder until I heard a high pitched screeching sound that finally got me to look up. When the plane finally came into my view it was already in flames. Then it exploded in mid-air and I couldn’t see it anymore.

Jacob: First the plane appeared from behind the clouds, then it burst into a ball of flames before crashing into our neighbor’s house.

What was your immediate reaction to the crash?

Mr. Carrigg: Immediately following the crash, I heard the shrieks of my children, for they were outside reading in the jacuzzi and witnessed it in disbelief. My daughter screamed, my son yelled and my immediate reaction was to run out and see what I just heard and see if anyone was injured.

Maddi: I immediately started screaming and crying to my mom when I initially witnessed the crash.

Jacob: My immediate thought was to tell my parents what just happened.

What has it been like for these past weeks with police, firefighters, ambulances, news reporters, and investigators on your street?

Mr. Carrigg: The amount of police and firefighters that were present was unreal. At the time of the accident, the whole neighborhood was a gridlock of personnel, and it was impossible to leave our house. In the weeks to follow, it was an annoyance because the reporters were very relentless for information when our neighbors were still dealing with the incident.

Maddi: It was scary and somewhat awkward for me. They were constantly knocking on our neighbors’ doors, I felt like there was no more privacy in my neighborhood. There was caution tape everywhere and we weren’t able to leave our home since the police warned us we might not be able to come back.

Jacob: It was terrible and frightening, I wasn’t really sure what to think anymore.

What was your experience with the candlelit vigil held on Thursday, February 7?

Mr. Carrigg: While at the vigil, I felt a heavy sorrow but at the same time a huge togetherness, for we were all grieving for the same thing so I didn’t feel alone.

Maddi: There were so many people at the school, it made my mom start crying out of joy for her community. There were so many dogs that were there just so you could pet them and get comfort. It made me cry to see everyone respectful and sincere towards one another.

Jacob: There were dozens and dozens of people, many of which didn’t live in our neighborhood. It was so heartwarming to see so many kind people attend the vigil.

Do you have any advice for those experiencing a similar sense of shock and loss after a tragedy?

Keep friends and family close. They love you and care about you, they won’t let you go through it alone, they will guide you and nurse you until you feel confident again.”

— Maddi Carrigg

Mr. Carrigg: The only advice I can give would be: everyone deals with tragedy differently, so find your way so you can continue living your life as best you can. 

Maddi: My advice to others would be to keep friends and family close. They love you and care about you, they won’t let you go through it alone, they will guide you and nurse you until you feel confident again.

Jacob: All I can say is to leave the past behind and look for a better future.

While an event of such devastating proportions is sure to leave behind wounds, both physical and emotional, that may never heal, a sense of community is also strengthened. Mattie Vouga (11), who attended the candlelit vigil, agrees: “What I experienced that night is beyond words.” The hearts of The Wrangler go out to the Carrigg’s and those affected by this tragedy.

Thank you to Natalie Nelson, Joshua Carrigg, Maddi Carrigg, and Jacob Carrigg for sharing their stories. All images of the crash were provided by Natalie Nelson.

This story was originally published on The Wrangler on February 26, 2019.