UPDATE: Murrieta pilot ID’d after plane crashes just short of Temecula neighborhood

UPDATED: Wednesday, Nov. 24, 10:46 a.m., With Coroner’s release of information and other details.  

Originally Published: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 4:52 p.m.  

TEMECULA, Calif., — Authorities say a local man was killed when a plane he was piloting crashed into an open field about six miles southeast of the French Valley Airport in Temecula, yesterday morning, Tuesday, Nov. 23.  

The field where the plane came to rest was barely 100 yards away from a nearby residential neighborhood; where area residents and curious onlookers were seen while officials worked at the scene.  


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Deputies from the Southwest Sheriff’s Station, Cal Fire – Riverside, and other emergency personnel were dispatched to an open field near the 32100 block of Everview Terrace around 10:30 a.m. after receiving reports of an aircraft emergency with a downed plane.  

When deputies and other officials arrived, they found a single-engine Zodiac 601XL overturned on its roof and found that the pilot and sole occupant of the aircraft had already succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

The Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office today identified Marshal Whatley, 48, of Murrieta, as the pilot killed in the crash. A Coroner’s release indicated he was pronounced deceased at 10:47 a.m.  

Officials work at the scene of yesterday’s fatal plane crash in Temecula that killed a a 48-year-old Murrieta pilot. Temecula, Murrieta, And Camp Pendleton Wildfire Incidents photo  

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified of the fatal crash and have since assumed the investigation.  

No information about the plane’s flight plan was immediately available and the investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing.   No streets were directly impacted or closed as a result of the crash, according to Sheriff’s officials.  

In a social media post this morning, Temecula Valley VFW Post 4089 wrote, “It’s with a heavy heart that we inform our brothers and sisters of Post 4089 that we lost one of our own.”  

“Marshal Whatley was taken from us in a plane he was piloting yesterday morning that crashed,” TVVFW went on to say; adding, “He will be sorely missed by all of us.”  

Marshal Whatley (R) has been identified as the pilot killed when his small plane crashed in an open field just outside a Temecula residential neighborhood. Temecula Valley VFW Post 4089 photo

A meeting to be held at the VFW Post tonight will honor Marshal and “mourn … our loss of this former Marine, husband, father and friend.”  


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.