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Friend: Instructor killed in plane crash was veteran, friend of animal rescue community

Friend: Instructor killed in plane crash was veteran, friend of animal rescue community
Friend: Instructor killed in plane crash was veteran, friend of animal rescue community

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The 66-year-old flight instructor who died in a small plane crash on the St. Marys River was well-known at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport. He was also a friend of the animal rescue community.

The instructor was identified as David Cuttino. An 18-year-old flight student, Alexis George, was also in the plane and died Friday in the crash.

Nancy Douglas is with Cats Angels Inc. She says everyone who knew Cuttino is devastated.

“He was such a great guy. I mean, he was a wonderful veteran. He adored his wife. That’s all he ever talked about was his wife. He loved her so much and it just is crushing us,” Douglas said.

Douglas says Cuttino and his wife ran Cat Ranch Sanctuary, Inc., and together they spent years helping find homes for cats and some dogs, too.

“He was active with the rescue community,” Douglas said. “He worked out at Fernandina Beach Airport a lot, so people knew him there. And he was a veteran so he was known through those organizations as well.”

The plane has been removed from the St. Marys River. The Florida Highway Patrol and the National Transportation Safety Board are working to determine the cause of the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane, a single-engine Cessna 150, took off from Fernandina Beach Airport.

Douglas said Cuttino was a former military pilot with extensive experience. He planned to retire from flight instruction.

George was a recent graduate of Fernandina Beach High School and had plans to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Alexis George's father said she had a passon for flying. She was aboard the plane that crashed into the St. Marys River on Friday. (Family-provided photo of George; photo of similar Cessna 150 by John Davies via Creative Commons)

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