A Thousand Oaks family of three and another man died Friday in a plane crash as they headed to the University of Oregon for a college scouting trip.
John A. Zitting, Karen Blackmore Zitting and their only child John Brendan Zitting were headed to Eugene, Oregon, around 11 a.m. when the plane began to fly low, turned and then crashed into a field, according to witnesses.
Mark Gregory Aletky of Acton, California, was piloting the Van Nuys-based private plane. He worked at TruNorthe LLC, a construction management company where John A. Zitting served as president.
John Brendan Zitting, who went by Brendan, was a member of the Westlake High School swim team. Friends and teammates gathered in the school’s parking lot near Zitting’s car, now covered with messages, candles and flowers.
"He was absolutely a great guy, my best friend for the longest time," teammate Mason Moser said.
Moser said he saw Zitting just about every day for the past six years at swim practice. Both high school seniors were backstroke swimmers over 6 feet tall and both planned to attend college in Oregon.
"We were going to go to college in same state, we were going to be 30 minutes from each other. We were going to see each other all the time, and he never came back," Moser said.
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Zitting’s extended swim team family said the gathering was a tribute to his character.
"I'm never going to forget that about him, his humor and just how nice of a person he was," Vinny Fasano said. "It's really hard knowing I won’t see him again."