SANTA MONICA, California (AP) — A former TV game show host and his wife were killed Monday morning when their small plane crashed into Santa Monica Bay, authorities said. Rescue crews were searching for a third person also aboard the plane.
The bodies of Peter Tomarken, 63, host of the hit 1980s game show “Press Your Luck,” and his wife, Kathleen Abigail Tomarken, 41, were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The plane was on its way to San Diego to ferry a medical patient to the UCLA Medical Center, said Doug Griffith, a spokesman for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit which provides free air transportation for needy patients.
Griffith said the pilot was a volunteer for the group.
This isn’t the first AFW accident. I can’t recall if there have ever been any fatal accidents while on a transport flight, but I do know that Angel Flight has an outstanding safety record covering more than two decades.
Everyone in the organization starts and ends with the mindset that cancellations are okay. If the weather, the aircraft, or anything else is not 100%, pilots are encouraged to stay on the ground. There’s no pressure to fly — in fact, patients are supposed to have an alternative form of transportation available just in case a flight cannot be completed due to extenuating circumstances.
I flew for Angel Flight for many years, later working as a mission coordinator, and found it to be the most rewarding part of aviation. I’ve always thought that the pilots got more out of the deal than our passengers, a warm feeling of restored faith in one’s fellow man. Everyone I flew with was extremely grateful, and had a unique and interesting story to tell.
I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that Angel Flight makes our world a better place. Much better.
My heart goes out to the Tomarken family. Perhaps it will serve as a small comfort to them that their loved ones died while doing something that makes a real and vital difference in the lives of people suffering from terrible illnesses.