Friends say Tehachapi man was flying the plane that crashed in Fresno

Friends say Tehachapi man was flying the plane that crashed in Fresno »Play Video
Tim Farmer and Finn Thompson in a photo provided by family

FRESNO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- The victims of Thursday night's plane crash near Chandler Airport in Fresno were Tim Farmer of Tehachapi and his 8-year old nephew, Finn Thompson -- according to a family friend.

Christina Askins released a statement Friday on behalf of the family, "We would like to thank everyone in the valley for the prayers and condolences. We feel your prayers at this difficult time in our lives."

Fresno County's coroner said positive identification could take some time because dental records weren't immediately available. But confirmed investigators had been in touch with relatives of Farmer and Thompson.

NTSB investigators arrived Friday and took the single engine Cessna to Madera where they will piece the plane together.

The plane was registered to another Tehachapi resident, who confirmed he loaned it to Farmer.

Friends of the family said the plane took off from Tehachapi and was headed into the Chandler Airport. The plane hit a tree before crashing, authorities said, and caught fire on impact. No one on the ground was injured. Pieces of the left wing were found in a backyard near the airport.

NTSB investigators said Farmer is a licensed pilot and had a current health certification. 

"In hopes to ultimately determine what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent these types of accidents from ever occurring again," said NTSB Aviation Investigator Josh Cawthra.

Family friends said Tim Farmer, 72, of Tehachapi, is survived by his daughter and two grandchildren. Finn Thompson, 8,  is survived by his parents, an older brother and a sister. Finn was a third grader at Bullard Talent Elementary School in Fresno.

The preliminary report from the NTSB will be ready within five days. A full investigation could take anywhere from six months to a year.