The first victims of the Addison plane crash in Texas have been named as a family of four. Brian and Ornella Ellard and their children, Alice and Dylan Maritato, were the first victims identified who died when the twin-engine plane slammed into a hangar on takeoff.
Online records show the Ellards with addresses nearby in Texas. Steve Thelen, managing director of JLL, and his wife, Gina Thelen, were also named as victims of the plane crash. On Facebook, Ornella Ellard, an interior designer, went by the name Ornella Maritato, and wrote that she is based in Plano, Texas. Her page contained photos of children doing artwork. Brian Ellard was from a ranching family and involved in the insurance industry. The two children were Ornella’s kids (ages 15 and 13), and Brian, 52, was their stepfather. Ornella posted this photo of Dylan for his 6th birthday in 2011:
An old profile once called Steve Thelen “king of the ‘burbs” for his ability to land deals. You can learn more about all of their lives later in this article.
A 7th victim identified was Matthew Palmer, 28, who was one of the pilots, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office and the New York Times. The 8th and 9th victims were named as John and Mary Titus, according to WTSP-TV. The 10th victim has not yet been identified.
Ten people died when the twin-engine King Air 350 plane crashed into a hangar after taking off on a trip to St. Petersburg Florida, official said in an evening news conference on June 30. There were no survivors. The NTSB released several photos from the scene. You can see them here.
“What we know at this point,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, in a press conference, on June 30. “There were two flight crew members, and there were eight passengers. We don’t have a lot of detail beyond that at this point.” The Addison Municipal Airport is located about 20 miles from Dallas, Texas.
“Information we have and the video that we saw was that the airplane was airborne,” Landsberg said. “So, the airplane had gotten airborne and then veered to the left of the runway, and then started to roll to the left. And it was in the process of rolling when it collided with the hangar.”
On July 1, Landsberg said authorities were analyzing the cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered, and said that the plane was owned by EE Operations, LLC. He also said that the communications with the control tower didn’t seem amiss, saying, “They acknowledged takeoff. We’re not aware of any further communications between the crew” and air traffic control.” He said the flight was a personal, not commercial, one. Witness David Snell told NBC News the plane didn’t “sound right” because it didn’t have the engine power he would expect for such a plane. It was “low” and “slow,” he said.
Photos and other tributes will be added to this post for each victim as they are named. The plane crash victims named so far are:
Brian & Ornella Ellard & Their Children, Alice & Dylan Maritato
According to NBC Dallas/Fort Worth, John Paul II High School in Plano “sent a letter to families Monday that said one of its students and her brother, mother and stepfather were on board” the plane.
Alice Maritato would have graduated in 2022, and her brother, Dylan, was set to conclude eighth grade at All Saints Catholic School in 2020, the television station reported. Brian Ellard and his wife, Ornella, were photographed for a profile about his mother’s yacht; she ran a ranching business with her husband, who started a major insurance business called National Teachers Associates Life Insurance Company. Brian Ellard’s parents’ ranch, EE Ranches, “would establish itself as a breeder of world class cutting horses,” according to Boat International.
According to Fox News, Brian was “part-owner of Oak Lawn Italian restaurant Mille Lire.”
Brian has worked as a leader in the family’s insurance company. Brian Ellard “carries on this family legacy as the current president of NTA. Ellard’s leadership and growth strategy has the company expanding like never before, deploying a field force of hundreds of agents in 45 states,” the company’s website says.
The family’s ranch Facebook page posted this 2015 photo of Brian’s mom, Jo, with Alice Maritato. “Jo and her granddaughter Alice Maritato celebrating her moving on to Junior High School. She is the daughter of Brian and Ornella Ellard,” the post read.
Ornella Ellard has a website that says she is a “Dallas based Architect and Interior Designer. She was born and raised in Italy where she earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture at Federico II University in Napoli and specialized in Restoration of Frescos and Stuccos, alternating her work as an architect with fascinating stints as an art restorer.”
The website bio continued: “In 2001 she moved to New York City determined to further expand her skills and incorporate in her designing style a more modern and eclectic approach. Hired by a prestigious firm, she attended at numerous projects ranging from residential to commercial spaces, offices in Wall Street and high-rise apartments in the Trump World Towers and Essex House.” She moved to Dallas in 2007.
“Dallas offered Ornella the perfect inspiration to mainly focus on interior designing. An allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) she offers her clients a wide range of options always stemming from their personalities and wishes,” her website says.
“The way the light hits a specific corner might be so inspiring to me to trigger my creative process and open up an entire world of ideas. Looking forward to working with you,” it quotes her as saying.
In 2017, Bent Tree Tennis in Dallas, Texas, posted on Facebook: “Congrats to Ornella Ellard and Brian Ellard for stepping up and dominating the Bent Tree Summer Step Challenge! Brian stepped off 517,500 steps on the tennis courts! But hold the presses as Ornella won the ladies and overall title with 574,000 steps!”
Steve & Gina Thelen
Steve and Gina Thelen were remembered in online tributes.
According to his LinkedIn page, Steve Thelen was managing director of JLL, a position he had held for 11 years in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Heavy has reached out to the company for comment. Before that time, Steve worked as executive vice president for The Staubach Company, and he was senior director for Cushman and Wakefield of Texas. Online records show he lived in Plano, Texas and was 58-years-old.
JLL sent Heavy a statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that took place yesterday. Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies go out to Steve and Gina’s family and friends during this difficult time. Steve was a valued friend and colleague to all of us, personally and professionally. They will both be deeply missed.”
“Our company creates and delivers real value for clients, shareholders and our own people with the consistent mindset of helping each other, help our clients win,” he wrote on LinkedIn. He had a bachelor’s of science degree in computing from Texas A&M.
In 2014, Bis Now ran a profile story on Steve Thelen. “JLL managing director Steve Thelen may be the king of the ‘burbs. He’s known for landing Pizza Hut in Plano in ’95 and reeled in 10M SF of transactions since then, including the 200k SF Conifer Health Solutions HQ build-to-suit in Frisco last year,” it read. The article includes pictures of Steve with his wife and children on family trips – fishing in Alaska and rafting in the Grand Canyon. The article says that Steve supported a non-profit effort to help veterans and added that Steve and his wife visited their daughter in Italy and attended a Rolling Stones concert there. They also had a son. The children were not on the plane. You can see more photos of the family here in the Bis Now article.
Former high school classmates offered tributes, with one writing, “Oh, I hate to hear that. He (Steve Thelen) was a friend of my brother…He once told me he has a framed picture from the 1978 prom that included him and my brother both, hanging in his house. Lifting prayers for his family and friends.”
Wrote another: “I remember Steve in high school. Very nice guy. My prayers and condolences for all family and friends.”
Palmer’s name was released by the medical examiner’s office. Palmer was a pilot. According to CBS Local, Palmer, known as MJ, was the craft’s co-pilot. He was a newlywed who was a graduate of Fort Worth’s Boswell High School.
On Facebook, Palmer wrote that he was a pilot at Blackshoe Investments and a flight instructor at Decatur Jet Center, worked as Ranch/Arena Hand at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, and studied at ATP Flight School.
He was married just last year. His wife’s top Facebook post, from May, says, “One year down, forever to go! Happy 1st anniversary Mj Palmer!”
Mary & John Titus
According to WTSP-TV, Mary Titus and her husband, John, were identified as crash victims by the Tennis Competitors of Dallas. Mary Titus was the mixed league director.
“We are shattered by this loss as I know many of you who knew the involved families are as well,” the organization said in an email to WSP.
“Mary was a true champion for the Mixed League and she loved working with all of you. I cannot tell you how proud I am of all that she has done for TCD and how greatly she will be missed.”
The Cause of the Crash Remains Under Investigation
Landsberg, of the NTSB, said he didn’t know the condition of the flight crew yet in terms of their prior experience “but that will definitely come out in the investigation. There will be a deep dive into the pilot’s background.” The aircraft had recently changed hands, authorities said, so they weren’t sure what the tail number of plane was.
The victims’ names have not yet been formally released by authorities. “We don’t know a lot about the people on board at this point. The next of kin is in the process of being notified,” said Landsberg on the evening of June 30, 2019. That information will come out July 1, he said. NBC News described the plane as a Beechcraft BE-350 King Air.
Landsberg said the aircraft was on an instrumental flight plan from Addison airport to St. Petersburg, Florida. It is believed the plane was previously owned by a charter company in Chicago. The hangar was privately-owned, but authorities wouldn’t say who owned it.
“We can not confirm that there was an engine failure at this point,” he said about the cause. “There are any number of possibilities that could occur and we’re not in a position to speculate on these things.” Authorities are aware of three different videos.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins wrote on Twitter, “Dallas County HSEM, HHS, SWIFS on scene. SWIFS working with NTSB officials to manage investigation of cause of crash. Addison has released there were no survivors and 10 fatalities. NTSB is expected to be on scene tonight.”
He added, “We finished briefing the families and have done nearly all our teams can do today.”
According to the NTSB newsroom, “The NTSB is launching a go team to Addison, TX to investigate the June 30 crash involving a King Air 350.”
"We'd like to express our most sincere condolences… to the family and friends who lost loved ones in this crash,” said Landsberg. "We're just here to investigate…”
The crash occurred at 9:11 a.m. at the Addison airport, he said, adding: "The aircraft collided with a hanger." A Falcon jet air craft and a helicopter were both inside the hangar, and they were damaged.
The NTSB launched an eight-person go-team. Five additional specialists are coming in from all over the country. He said the NTSB will look for perishable evidence first.
Jennifer Rodi, senior air safety investigator and investigator in charge of this accident, said that her team has walked "through the scene several times this evening and observed the wreckage where it sits, the damage to the hangar…The airplane was damaged by impact forces and a post-impact fire." She said her team was starting to gather information on scene. They will be looking into the flight crew on board, their training, knowledge and experience; the aircraft and its maintenance history; and the environment, including the weather, air traffic control environment, and any communications that took place.
The NTSB is in the fact-gathering stage. Within two weeks, they expect to have a preliminary report out. All of the background information will be included in the analysis.