Mr. Stelling’s wife, Dr. Dawn Burns Stelling, was on the plane at the time of the crash, but survived, and was returning to Southampton on Monday, according to a close family friend who asked not to be identified.
The friend said that the Stellings, along with a friend they were visiting in San Diego while attending an annual veterinary medicine conference, were on the plane with the pilot. Mr. Stelling and the family friend were killed in the crash, while Dr. Stelling and the pilot survived.
The family friend was not immediately identified.
It’s not clear why the group was on the airplane, a 1995 Beechcraft Bonanza, a six-seat single-engine airplane registered to Altitude Aviation Inc. out of Hermosa Beach, California.
The owner of the Southampton Peconic Beach and Tennis Club in Shinnecock Hills was killed in the crash of a small plane in San Diego, California, on Saturday.
Robert Stelling, 50, of Southampton was a passenger on a single-engine, six-seat Beech BE36 Bonanza, which multiple publications reported took off from Montgomery Field in San Diego, just east of Clairemont, California, at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the pilot reported engine failure shortly after takeoff, and tried to make an emergency landing in a schoolyard. After touching ground, the plane crashed into a fence and into the back of a house at approximately 4:35 p.m., the publication read.
Mr. Stelling’s wife, Dr. Dawn Burns Stelling, owns the Olde Towne Animal Hospital on County Road 39 in Southampton, where a spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Stelling was killed in the crash. No other details were provided by the spokesperson, other than to say she had received confirmation from members of the Stelling family.
An investigation into the cause of the plane crash is being conducted by the National Transportation and Safety Board.
Multiple calls to the San Diego Police Department seeking confirmation of the events were not immediately returned.
The Stelling family has owned the Southampton Peconic Beach and Tennis Club since 1978.
Gil Flanagan, a Southampton-based attorney, said he knew Mr. Stelling for at least 20 years, and was a member of the Peconic Beach and Tennis Club. He said he heard about Mr. Stelling’s death through another club member, and is upset at the news.
“He was the greatest host,” Mr. Flanagan said. “He always made a point to make everyone feel special and welcome.
“Whenever the sun went over the horizon, he would run over and ring a bell,” he added.