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An 8-year-old Hesperia boy died Friday night from injuries he suffered in a plane crash at El Mirage Dry Lake, according to his family.
Despite the efforts of doctors and the prayers of many in the community, Sebastian Joshua Grewal died at Loma Linda University Medical Center at approximately 10 p.m. Friday, his father Joshua Grewal said.
"Sebastian passed away peacefully last night in my arms, surrounded by family," Joshua Grewal said Saturday morning by phone. "I am humbled and touched by all the love and support from the High Desert community and I am forever thankful."
Sebastian, who loved planes and dreamed of becoming a pilot, was critically injured in the crash late Monday morning and was airlifted to Loma Linda where physicians treated him for severe brain injuries, according to his father.
During his stay, doctors performed multiple surgeries on the boy, including one to relieve pressure to the brain, Joshua Grewal said.
As his son was being treated, Joshua Grewal, the owner of Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop in Hesperia, asked the community to lift his son up in prayer and at times wished that he could exchange places with his little boy who also loved cars, golfing and dirt bikes.
Joshua Grewal said Sebastian was “fighting very hard to live” and that “it’s a miracle that he is still alive” after seeing the wreckage of the single-engine Grumman AA-1A aircraft.
Brian Lee, 47, a family friend and pilot of the aircraft, was pronounced dead Monday night at a Palmdale hospital after being airlifted there. Lee was a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot and firefighter/paramedic.
According to the LAFD, Lee was a 25-year veteran of the department and was not on duty when the plane experienced problems and crashed.
Joshua Grewal said Lee had taken the plane out to give Sebastian a plane ride during a camping trip. Grewal said Lee left behind twin girls.
Hesperia Mayor Pro Tem Eric Schmidt said the High Desert community, and Hesperia in particular, mourns the loss of Sebastian.
"Our support and prayers go out to Josh and the rest of the family and friends impacted by this tragic accident," Schmidt said.
Hesperia Mayor Thurston "Smitty" Smith reached out to Joshua Grewal soon after the crash and said he'll continue to pray for the family and to make himself available to them.
"It breaks my heart that another father has lost his child," Smith said Saturday morning. "I lost my son, Brandon, seven years ago and the pain is still there. … This is a tragic and sad day. Father's Day will never be the same for Josh."
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter@renegadereports.