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Plane crash victim at Palm Beach County Park Airport 'just wanted to be a pilot,' aunt says

Isabela Diego Matias killed along with pilot
Posted at 4:49 PM, May 29, 2023

LANTANA, Fla. — A young woman was among two people killed Friday in a small plane crash at the Palm Beach County Park Airport near Lantana.

Isabela Diego Matias, 20, of Lantana, was among the victims in the crash that also killed Stanley Sands, 76, of Lake Worth Beach, a flight instructor.

Ana Matias spoke fondly of her niece.

The wreckage of a small plane crash at Palm Beach County Park Airport near Lantana on May 26, 2023.jpg
The wreckage of a small plane crash at Palm Beach County Park Airport near Lantana on May 26, 2023.

"As a person, she was a wonderful, sweet girl," Matias said.  

She said Isabela was full of firsts in the family. 

"She just wanted to be a pilot. The first lady pilot in our family," Matias said. "She was the first person to go to college in our family."

But this story about Isabela is bittersweet. While pursuing her passion to be a pilot, she died along with Sands after their single-engine Cessna 172 crashed.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the crash occurred during an instructional flight at Palm Beach County Park Airport near Lantana. 

Ana Matias said her niece was driven to become an airplane pilot.
Ana Matias said her niece was driven to become an airplane pilot.

"They called her dad and said, 'Oh, is it possible that you could come home? We got to talk to you. It's an emergency,'" Matias said. "So, her dad came home and that's when they told him, 'Your daughter passed away in a plane crash,'" she said.  

Matias said the close-knit family is taking her niece's death hard. She said Isabela just turned 20 years old in February. 

"She's a church girl. She never misses out on church," Matias said. "Church has to be a part of her life. ... She loved the church."

Isabela was born in Guatemala. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help bury her in the Central American country.

An NTSB investigator will finish the on-scene phase of the investigation Monday. A preliminary report should follow in the next two to three weeks.