Yuma based marine dies in plane crash

Yuma based marine dies in plane crash


YUMA, AZ - For the third time this year Marine Corps Air Station Yuma is mourning the loss of one of their own.             

A Yuma based marine died in a plane crash on Easter Sunday.

MCAS officials say Captain George Mellone was flying his personal plane in Salinas, California when it crashed on Sunday morning.

The 32-year-old was visiting his family in the small northern California town for the weekend.

The pilot lived at a Yuma home a few miles from base with four roommates.

"I didn't believe it. I was in shock when I got the call. Especially, just seeing him not too long ago before he left," said Aaron Anaya, Mellone's roommate.

Only burn marks and minor debris remains from the weekend crash.

The harrier pilot was accompanied by a co-pilot identified as 24-year-old David Ostendorf, a Salinas resident.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration the single engine airplane is designed for aerobatic competition.

"He was a very active person. He was passionate about what he did. He loved to fly planes. He was always talking about his planes and taking trips," said Anaya.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office officials say both men died of blunt force trauma.

Reports say that the airplane was performing stunts right before the crash.

"He even asked if we wanted to go with him on a couple plane trips. We just never got the chance to do that," said Anaya.

Mellone joined the marines in 1999. The Monterey native earned the rank of captain last June.

Some of his many awards include three Navy and Service Marine Corps Achievement Medals and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

"He was an up spirit person, joking around. He was always happy and in a good mood," said Anaya.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

"Keep him in our prayers and it's not an easy situation to be in."     

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