Victim's son: Stern Produce lost a great leader - FOX 35 News Orlando

Victim's son after fatal plane crash: Stern Produce lost a great leader

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A prominent valley family was killed over the weekend when their plane crashed in California on their way back to Phoenix.

William A. Stern, the owner of Stern Produce, was killed along with his wife and their 19-year-old daughter.

William's son Billy sent out a statement Monday, saying Stern Produce lost a great leader. He says he'll honor his dad by continuing his vision and high level of customer service.

William Stern Jr., his wife Jennifer, and their daughter Katelyn were all together on their plane when it went down near San Diego. Friends say Stern flew his Lancair IV-P for more than 6 years, traveling to and from California. It's a home-built plane. The FAA considers it an experimental aircraft.

Outside the stern's home along Camelback Mountain, Katelyn's friends left flowers at the edge of the driveway.

"It's surreal, still we still kind of can't believe this is real," said Jessica Michael, grade school friend.

Friends called her Katey. She was 19-years-old and a student at SMU.

"Remembering her laugh and everything about her and she'll really be really missed."

William Stern Jr. is the owner of Stern Produce with warehouses in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson. The NTSB and FAA are investigating the cause of the crash.

Back in 2010, the FAA did send a notice out to pilots letting them know to take extra precautions because there have been a "disproportionate" number of fatal crashes on amateur built planes like the Lancair IV-P.

Statement by William A. Stern III

To our valued customers and colleagues,
On Saturday, Stern Produce Company lost a great leader. Our owner and president Bill Stern died in a tragic plane crash along with his wife and daughter. The accident happened just outside of San Diego as they were traveling back home to Phoenix.
While there are many questions left to answer regarding the accident itself, there are no questions regarding the future of our company.
With Bill's leadership and planning we will maintain our current high level of customer service, quality products and operations to our customers. We will continue to be a family owned and privately held company.
We lost a tremendous leader and friend and will honor Bill by continuing the vision, focus and traditions he established. While our hearts are heavy, we will continue in the direction set forth by Bill.
The Stern Family and all the team at Stern Produce thank our loyal customers and the entire community for their thoughts and prayers.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

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