Cause still unclear in plane crash that killed Gilroy family

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report of a plane crash near Bakersfield that killed a Gilroy family of five last month.

Jason Price, 42, was the pilot of the plane that carried Olga Price, 42, John Price, 14, Mary Price, 10, and Olivia Price, 9, according to the Kern County Coroner's Office.

On Dec. 19 at about 2:30 p.m., the family took off in a Piper PA-32RT from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose for Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, NTSB officials said.

The plane was approaching Bakersfield about an hour into the flight and an air traffic controller warned the pilot of moderate to heavy precipitation ahead, according to the NTSB.

The controller requested Jason Price to make a right turn to avoid traffic, but the pilot instead made an ascending left turn and went up to an altitude of 15,600 feet, NTSB officials said.

The controller again asked Jason Price to make a right turn but the plane suddenly went down to 13,800 feet and seconds later the pilot responded back with two mayday calls, according to the NTSB.

Shortly before 4 p.m., the plane was last recorded traveling at an altitude of 11,200 feet before it went off the radar, NTSB officials said.

The controller gave the pilot directions to Bakersfield and asked pilots on other aircrafts if they saw the Piper plane, but their calls came back negative, according to the NTSB.

One pilot told the controller the area was covered in clouds, NTSB officials said.

The plane broke apart while in the air and what was left landed in an almond orchard about 9 miles southwest of Bakersfield, where debris spread out in an area about a half-mile long, according to the NTSB.

The engine and forward cabin were found in an irrigation ditch, NTSB officials said.

The plane was registered to RAD Aviation LLC and Jason Price was issued a private pilot certificate in July 2012, according to the NTSB. He recorded 269.5 hours of flight experience in his logbook as of Dec. 9, NTSB officials said.

Jason Price worked as a principal reliability engineer at GenesisSolutions, a Connecticut company that supports asset intensive companies, according to his LinkedIn profile.

John had attended Brownell Middle School in Gilroy for sixth and seventh grades, but was enrolled outside of the district for the current school year, Gilroy Unified School District spokeswoman Rachel Zlotziver said.

Olivia and Mary attended fourth and fifth grades, respectively, at Luigi Aprea Elementary School in Gilroy, Zlotziver said.