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‘Just devastated’: Friend of plane crash victim speaks; Memorial for deceased builds outside crash site

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jul 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 09:04:00-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – One day after a plane crash claimed the lives of three and sent others to the hospital, a memorial is building outside of the crash site as people pay their respects.

A steady stream of cars drove through the area of 8800 South and 4000 West throughout the day Sunday as on-lookers tried to catch glimpses of a crash site where a small plane went down just one day prior, killing three people on board.

Neighbors watched in disbelief as crews removed large chunks of the plane from the wreckage, some shedding tears, others leaving small stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers outside of the police tape.

Sunday, West Jordan Police identified the victims – the pilot, Lee Wyckoff, 43, his 9-month-old daughter Coral, and another passenger, Milda Shibonis.

“She was a pretty incredible person,” said Shibonis’ longtime friend, John Mertens.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he continued. “I was just devastated.”

Mertens got word of the crash when a mutual friend sent him a link to an article, naming Shibonis as one of the victims. After speaking with her family, Mertens said it felt more "real," but he still can’t believe it.

“You never expect something like this to happen. It’s just hard to imagine that it’s really her,” he said.

Mertens looked back on his friendship with Shibonis fondly, saying she always came with a side of adventure.

“She was always doing something really exciting, so flying around in an airplane like that is really in character for her,” Mertens said. “It’s just really sad and really shocking to think that this is the last think she’s going to be doing.”

And while devastated by the loss, Mertens said there is a silver lining: Veda Sheperd, Shibonis' 12-year-old daughter, survived.

“I’m sure if there was something that Milda could have done to cause that to happen, that she did,” said Mertens.

A fundraising page has been started to help cover Shibonis' funeral costs, and the rest will go to her daughter. The page can be found HERE.

Three others involved in the crash remain at the hospital in critical condition: Rebecca Wyckoff, the pilot's wife mother of the baby who died; a 2-year-old passenger who sustained burns to his arms and legs; and Mary Quintana, a 72-year-old woman who was inside of her home when the plane crashed into it.