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Students, pilot identified in Silver City plane crash

Updated: 05/26/2014 3:29 PM | Created: 05/25/2014 5:37 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A plane crash near Whiskey Creek Airport Friday crushed the hearts of many in the Silver City area.

By Monday, Aldo Leopold Charter School released the identities of the three teenagers who died in the crash. The school shared photos and memories to show how they will be remembered. The biographies are below: 

Ella Sala Myers, 16, had just completed her sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. She was the forestry expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won 1st Place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition this year.

As part of her YCC duties, Ella taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orienteering prior to the all school backpacking trips. Ella had recently been awarded a merit scholarship and was planning to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's College accredited Summer Arts Program studying film and video.

For the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, she was recently honored at the Warehouse 508 in Albuquerque with state gold and silver keys for her photography and video, two of her novels went on to the national level and both were awarded Gold medals. She was in the top 25 high school kids in the country awarded this honor.

Ella's main love was her horse Gracie. Gracie is a big Dutch warmblood that Ella rode jumpers with. Ella was a talented equestrian and as Ella put it "Gracie is my best friend". She was devoted to her horse and rode her six days a week.

Ella was an honor roll student all semesters she attended ALCS, planned to be Deputy Editor if the ALCS Newsletter and was saving up for the Tropical Ecology trip to Costa Rica. Ella was an avid writer, musician, and artist. She wrote many novels, one of which won an honorable mention in a National Youth Literature Contest, she played and composed on a violin, and has art in various community spaces. Ella was very athletic, she was a part of the Silver High Lady Colts Track team
 
Michael Sebastian Mahl, 16, had just completed his sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. He attended Agape Christian Academy prior to attending ALCS. Michael was a Student Council Rep, Vice President, and was just elected Student Body President for next year. He was the soil expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won 1st Place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition this year.

As part of his YCC duties, Michael taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orienteering prior to the all school backpacking trips. Michael played guitar, drums and sang; he had a passion for music and arts.

Michael was on the honor roll every semester since his freshman year. This year he compiled the yearbook and was an integral part of the ALCS Newsletter. Michael worked at his father's business, J&J Signs and was raising money for the school's Tropical Ecology research field trip to Costa Rica.

Ella Jaz Kirk, 14, had just completed her sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. She was the aquatics expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won first place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition this year.

As part of her YCC duties, Ella taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival and instructed ALCS staff and students on orienteering prior to the all school backpacking trips.

This year, Ella wrote for the ALCS Newsletter and she was in line to be next year's editor in chief. She was an honor roll student each semester she attended ALCS and was a sixth grade teacher's aide. Ella played fiddle with a local group called Fiddle Club and composed many songs, some which were entered into competitions.

When Ella was in seventh grade, she went on the first Tropical Ecology trip to Costa Rica that was hosted by the school, and this year she was saving up to return with her fellow classmates.

Ella's main passion was saving the Gila River. She delivered a petition with 6,400 signatures from around the world, to Gov. Martinez to stop the diversion. 

KOB Eyewitness News 4 has also confirmed that the pilot of the plane was Dr. Peter Hochla of Albuquerque. The Hochla family sent KOB the following statement: "Dr. Hochla's family would like to express their deepest condolences for the victims of this tragedy, and we request privacy in this time of our bereavement."

Ella Kirk (left), Michael Sebastian Mahl and Ella Sala Myers were killed in a small plane crash in Silver City.

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