PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The mother of a man who died in a plane crash is speaking out about the accident.
31-year-old Joshua Merrill died a hero in the eyes of many.
"He hit a tree and nothing else, and that is absolutely mind blowing," said a witness.
Witnesses at a retirement community in Surprise say Merrill did everything he could to keep his single-engine Beechcraft away from houses as he crashed landed on a greenbelt. His mother says he had been flying since he was a teenager.
"He's been around aviation all his life, his dad was a Southwest Airlines pilot all his life, his grandpa was a bush pilot in Alaska," said Robin Merrill.
Merrill's passenger and friend 32-year-old Michael Fox remains in the hospital in serious condition.
Fox's father said he owes his son's life to Merrill; he said if he were going to be in a plane crash he'd want Merrill at the controls; he was that good.
A small memorial has been placed where the plane went down. Merrill's mom says the outpouring of love for her son has been wonderful; it showed how his outgoing spirit touched so many lives till the very last moment on Saturday.
"In his last moments, his last seconds here on earth, he was thinking about other people. He was thinking about saving lives and landing that airplane, so there was as little damage as possible to surrounding homes and people, his dad and grandpa taught him how to fly well," said Robin.