SLO volunteers die in Baja plane crash
Four San Luis Obispo County residents on a humanitarian medical trip to Mexico were killed in a plane crash on Oct. 15.
The group consisted of Graciela Sarmiento and James Thornton, both doctors from Arroyo Grande Community Hospital; attorney Roger Lyon of Cayucos, who owned the plane and was flying it; and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Andrew Thiel, according to a statement released by the hospital on Oct. 18.
They were traveling to Baja California with the group Flying Samaritans. Their small plane crashed in a foggy, mountainous area just south of Ensenada, killing everyone on board, the hospital said.
The team was headed to the small town of San Quintin, about 90 miles south of Ensenada.
Sarmiento had a general medicine practice at Community Health Centers of the Central Coast in Oceano and was a member of Arroyo Grande Community Hospital’s community board.
Thornton was a plastic surgeon with an office in San Luis Obispo. He had volunteered with the Flying Samaritans for the past 20 years, making two trips a year, according to the hospital’s statement.
Lyon, the pilot, also had connections to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital. His son, Kristopher Lyon, is an emergency room physician at the hospital, and so is Kristopher Lyon’s wife, Rachel May.