Victims in Petaluma plane crash identified by family

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Witnesses say a small plane backfired and had engine trouble at takeoff before it fell from the sky half a mile from the Petaluma Municipal Airport, killing the two people who were on board. (KGO-TV)

It happened in a matter of seconds, a plane crash that killed a couple from Carmichael, just a few hundred yards from the Petaluma airport, where they had just taken off Sunday afternoon.

"I think the power stalled," said Jim King, who was playing golf with several others at the Rooster Run Golf Club next door the airport, "and we all looked at each in the eye and it was like, that doesn't sound right."

A pilot himself, Sean O'Brien told us the plane was maybe 800 feet in the air, when the engine backfired and the plane suddenly banked to the right as if to try to return to the airport, but instead it twirled to the ground.

The sister of the pilot identifies those killed as Richard and Sue Bristow from Carmichael.

RELATED: Officials confirm 2 killed in small plane crash near Petaluma Airport

Over the phone, Bristow's sister Susan said. "We are just devastated by such a sudden loss. Richard was an excellent pilot. It was his passion. We believe it must have been something mechanical."

Richard Bristow was a realtor in the Sacramento area.

The plane he was flying was a Van's RV-6, an amateur built custom-manufactured plane.

Bristow's had been in service since 1996. Both the FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.

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