Picking up the pieces: Son of Santee couple saved from home hit by plane sifts through the rubble

SANTEE (KUSI) – Three days after the deadly plane crash in Santee, the National Transportation Safety Board has completed their on-scene portion of the investigation.

The NTSB released this update to KUSI on Wednesday:

      “The wreckage has been removed from the scene. It was moved to a facility in Arizona where a formal wreckage layout will take place at a later date. Yesterday, NTSB investigators              documented the scene, conducted numerous witness interviews and gathered security camera footage. The on scene portion of the investigation will end today.”

Now that the wreckage has been cleared, it allows the families of two homes that were destroyed by the crash to return and begin to salvage any of their belongings. Jimmy Slaff-Gruel, the son of the couple saved from the burning home, gave KUSI an exclusive look at the destruction the first day he was allowed back onto his parent’s property.

“It looks like a war-zone, complete carnage,” Slaff-Gruel said. “Thank God for the people who put themselves in harm’s way to get them out because looking at what’s left, it’s hard to believe.”

Phillip and Maria Morris are hospitalized with injuries sustained during the crash and are expected to be discharged in three weeks. Slaff-Gruel was able to save a file box of invaluable papers from the wreckage of a back room that he was sure had been destroyed.

“She had taken her documents out of the fire-proof safe to go through some stuff and she put them in this filing box,” Slaff-Gruel said. “So, when I talked to her at the hospital, she said, well, this is in the back bedroom. I didn’t think it survived but that was the first thing I looked through when I got here and there it was.”

The box had Maria’s certificate of naturalization, letters from congress, both of their birth certificates and other important documents.

“I was extremely shocked to see it, I expected it to be a pile of metal,” Slaff Gruel said. “We were able to find a photo album a little bit intact and a survivor’s belt I bought her when she beat cancer for the fifth time, but everything else was gone.”

Maria is a natural born survivor. She’s been diagnosed with cancer five times, and most recently, she beat breast cancer. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago this month. She and her husband are expected to make a complete recovery.

Donate to their GoFundMe page here.

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live from Santee with more details.

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