SAN ANTONIO — The Bexar County Medical Examiner has identified one of the victims of a small plane crash that killed three Sunday night as 38-year-old Robert Tyson Womble.
The plane took off from Sugar Land, a city about 20 miles southwest of Houston, and was heading to Boerne when the pilot noticed "some kind of engine problems," according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood.
At that point the pilot declared an "alert 2 emergency" over San Antonio, indicating that there was a mechanical or engine issue. The exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined.
Hood said the plane crashed on the 600 block of West Rhapsody Drive near the San Antonio International Airport shortly before 6:30 p.m., and there's no indication that it struck any trees or other structures.
Hallmark University Dean of Aeronautics Kurt Leslie said the pilot did the best he could to save lives. "It could have been a lot worse," he said. "He could have flown into an apartment building. He could have flown into a freeway."
Leslie said there are several factors that cause engine failure. "It simply could have ran out of gas," he said. "It could be a mechanical failure. The engine could have been disrupted."
Leslie said NTSB investigators will be looking at the pilot's history and the last time the plane was checked.
The plane was registered to Womble, who has a pilot's license. Officials have not confirmed whether Womble was flying the plane at the time of the crash.
The names of the other victims have not been officially released, but Sunday evening Hood and the Medical Examiner identified the other victims as 22-year-old Eric Naranjo, and a woman, age 71.
Naranjo, a UTSA student, was from Sugar Land and was an avid ping pong player, his friends told our sister station KIII.
Two of Narjano's friends, Calvin True and Maggie Sarrack said he was heading home from the Thanksgiving break.
"It is unbelievable," she said. "It is like living in a nightmare or a dream."
They said he was excited about flying in a private plane and even posted about it on social media. They said he will be deeply missed.
"He was great. Everyone loved him," True said. Everyone that knows Eric knew that he was destined for success. He was for sure going to be a successful person," his friends said.
One witness told KENS 5 the plane was "coming in for a landing and it dove to the ground in a second."
Another witness told our crew on the scene that the crash "sounded like metal on metal."
According to authorities, the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are expected to be involved in an investigation.