MESA, Ariz. - Investigators have identified the pilot and passenger killed in a horrific plane crash near Falcon Field in Mesa on Tuesday night.
Mesa police say 43-year-old Jesse Goodwin was behind the controls of the World War II-era plane and 18-year-old foreign exchange student Ataberk Besler was also killed.
The middle of the roadway near the airport is still blackened where the aircraft crashed during takeoff.
Jesse Goodwin called "mayday," just seconds before the plane crashed. His last radio call cut off.
On the ground, Melissa Michael was driving home on Greenfield Road.
The plane hit right in front of her.
"My life was flashing before my eyes,” Michael said. “The fire was in front of our faces. We were right there and I knew that there was going to be debris flying ... I just started reversing.”
The plane caught fire. Goodwin and Besler never made it out.
Goodwin was a first officer for American Airlines. The airline issued a statement that said: "First Officer Jesse Goodwin was part of the American Airlines family and we are saddened by this loss. All of us at American extend our condolences to his loved ones.”
Melissa’s kids were in the car, too. They saw the whole thing.
She says they’re traumatized.
So is she.
“I couldn’t go to sleep until 2 a.m. I’m shaken up by this,” she said. “I didn’t know if we were going to make it.”
The NTSB is investigating. Other witnesses said they heard a grinding sound before the plane went down, but no official determination has been made yet for the cause of the crash.