Cal Poly biological sciences alumnus Andrew Thiel died Friday, Oct. 15, when a single-engine plane went down in Baja California, Mexico, killing its crew which included members of the nonprofit organization Flying Samaritans.
On board with Thiel were three other San Luis Obispo county residents — pilot and attorney Roger Lyon and doctors Graciela Sarmiento and James Thornton.
The remains of the plane were found Saturday afternoon by rescuers, as reported by the Diario Rotativo newspaper in Mexico.
Thiel and the other victims were working with the Flying Samaritans, a nonprofit organization operating free medical clinics in Baja California according to the organization’s website.
The weather in the area on Friday evening was foggy, local media said. Contact with the plane was lost around 7:30 p.m, according to the news site Ensenada.net.
“This was a routine trip — trips like this are made between 60 and 90 times every month,” Flying Samaritans President Victor Jones said. “At this point we’re not sure what happened or why the plane went down.”
The plane’s destination was San Quintín, a small coastal town, and the wreckage of the plane was found about 25 miles from the town of Ensenada, according to the Diario Rotativo article.
The pilot, Robert Lyon, radioed the plane’s position after 10 miles but no further contact was made, Jones said.
According to Thiel’s father Mark, Thiel had graduated from Cal Poly in June and planned to attend medical school in the hopes of going into the field of plastic surgery. This was Andrew’s first trip with the Flying Samaritans, Thiel said, and Andrew‘s brother Garrett planned on going as well but changed his plans at the last minute.
“He was everything a parent could ask for,” Thiel said. “Andrew was someone who helped other people without ever being asked.”
Cal Poly student Andrew Thiel died in a plane crash on Saturday, Oct. 16 in Baja California, Mexico according to multiple news sources.
Thiel, a biological sciences senior, was reportedly on a humanitarian mission with three other people. The group was reportedly a part of Flying Samaritans, a group of doctors, pilots, translators and more that provide non-emergency medical care to citizens of Baja California, Mexico, according to the organization’s website.
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