watsonville municipal airport
A small plane comes in for a landing at Runway 2 Friday at Watsonville Municipal Airport past the wreckage of one of two planes that crashed midair Thursday. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Coroner has identified the three victims in a midair collision between two airplanes on Aug. 18 above Watsonville Municipal Airport. 

Carl Kruppa, 75, and Nannette Plett-Kruppa, 67, both of Winton, Calif. were aboard the Cessna 340 twin-engine plane, while Stuart Camenson, 32, of Santa Cruz, was flying solo in a Cessna 152 single-engine plane.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration. 

Camenson was a UC Santa Cruz graduate with degrees in chemistry and Earth sciences, according to university spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason. He worked in UCSC’s Division of Information Technology as an information systems analyst.

He was also a part of the Cabrillo College Stage, and was in the recent production of “Candide,” an experience that changed his life, he told friends.

“Stuart was a one-of-a-kind human being,” said friend Lauren Chouinard. “He is the embodiment of love, joy and authenticity. Candide was Stuart’s first theater experience, and whenever we would see each other on our off days, he would smile so huge and tell me about how much he loved everything about performing, from the music to the rehearsal process, to all the love he had for his fellow cast and crew.”

His friend Jorge Torrez said that Camenson’s laughter and presence “lit up a room.”

Carl Kruppa was part of Custom Farm Services, a fourth-generation business established in 1969 in Winton, Calif. He was licensed to fly both single and multi-engine planes, and had been a pilot for nearly two decades, according to the FAA. He was flying with his wife Nannette Plett-Kruppa and their dog. 

The business specializes in almonds, sweet potatoes, black eye beans, corn silage and forage crops, according to its website. It also provides assistance to other farmers in Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties in the areas of land development, harvest, end stage processing and orchard recycling.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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