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Family Remembered, One Year After Fatal Plane Crash

The Houghton family perished when their small plane nosedived into the Watsonville Community Hospital campus on July 7, 2011.

A year ago today,  into a clinic adjacent to Watsonville Community Hospital.

The father, mother and two sons died instantly

Relatives of the Santa Cruz family have been sharing memories of David and DeDe, both 44, 12-year-old Luke and Ryan, 10, on a blog.

DeDe's mother, Linda Anderson, wrote about the last time she spent with her daughter and grandsons, a June day about three weeks before the fatal accident. They took the boys to the Boardwalk that night and, the next day, she and Luke went to garage sales. 

Anderson left for a wedding and never saw the family again.

"I would have loved to have stayed and had I known what a difference in all of our lives was about to happen I would have," she wrote.

Anderson wears a ring on her pinkie that reminds her of the family.

"I have been so blessed and am so greatful (sic), even with a heavy heart and some sad tears as I remember and feel the loss so heavily. I continue to feel their presence with me and am actively waiting for each touching, I know they feel my love and I believe they are happy where they are but feel a sadness and such strong love for all of us that miss them so very much and are always remembering them," she wrote.

The family was flying a single-engine Mooney to Pine Mountain Lake, about two hours away near Yosemite. The plane nosedived shortly after taking off, skidding through the parking lot at the hospital and crashing into a closed OB-GYN clinic.

The Houghtons died on impact.

But the tragedy unfolded slowly in the hours after the plane went down. It wasn't until a day later that officials released the number of people killed in the aviation accident. News that the boys had died hit people—even those who didn't know the Houghtons—hard.

There is a bench dedicated to the family overlooking Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz.

A year later, relatives continue grieve the loss.

"Tomorrow will be a hard day," John Houghton, David's brother, wrote Friday. "There are no events that I know of and that’s fine with me.  I don’t want to plan anything because running the event keeps me from thinking of them.  Tomorrow I’ll be in Santa Cruz and I want to think of them."

The investigation into the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board has not progressed beyond the preliminary report. In it,  in two tight turns, but appeared to recover before ultimately going down in a fiery crash.

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