A Peoria resident aboard a plane that crashed in Surprise Saturday evening has died during surgery, Surprise Police Sgt. Norm Owens said.
Joshua Merrill, of Peoria, was 31 years old.
Merrill's family released the following statement:
"Joshua was an amazing talented son, protective big brother, the "fun" uncle and the love of his fiancée's life! He was more than talented with his hands if it came to fixing things mechanically or building anything. He was a pilot who knew what he was doing and proved that by carefully maneuvering the aircraft in a heavy populated area resulting in no fatalities to innocent bystanders or structural damages. Being a pilot was his life career from a young age, and he loved every minute of it to the fullest! We thank everyone for their condolences and prayers in this hard time."
The other person in the plane, Michael Fox, 32, of Glendale, remains in serious condition.
Fox's mother, Christine Hanneman, says he has gone through two surgeries on Sunday. He has a lot of deep cuts, bruising and broken bones.
"Considering what he lived through, he is doing very well," Hanneman said.
He has been moved into an Intensive Care Unit, where remains under close observation, Owens said. We're told Fox is expected to be released from the ICU on Wednesday.
Fox's family has set up a GoFundMe page.
Fox and Merrill were best friends. Fox had started a new business called Fox Aviation and Merrill was a part of it.
Merrill's father says he was an experienced pilot, getting his pilot license at the age of 17.
Fox is an Army veteran and has had a strong passion for flying.
The single-engine 1956 Beech G35 aircraft came down around 5 p.m. Saturday in the Sun Village senior citizen community. That's just south of the intersection of Litchfield and Bell roads.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to assist the Surprise Police Department in the investigation.
In a statement, Owens said:"The men and women of the Surprise Police Department are keeping Mr. Fox, his family, and his friends, in their thoughts and prayers. Additionally, we are continuing to pray for Mr. Fox to have a full recovery from his injuries. The Surprise Police are also keeping Mr. Merrill's family and friends in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this most difficult time of mourning."
Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.