Dr. Bill Kirby, who decided Monday to step down as mayor of Auburn, California after making social media posts comparing supporters of President Donald Trump to the Ku Klux Klan, was killed Saturday morning in a single-engine plane crash, officials confirmed.
The mayor, who also compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler in a comment and suggested “the world would be a much better place” without him, was the pilot of the plane that crashed shortly after 11 a.m near the Auburn Municipal Airport.
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A passenger in the plane suffered minor injuries and was transported to a hospital, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
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SacBee report: A Facebook post from Sacramento political consultant Jeff Raimundo carried a statement from the Kirby family confirming he was the victim. Photos provided by the Sheriff’s Office show flames in a field with scattered shrapnel near the airport.
Auburn’s vice mayor, Matt Spokely, shared the news with city staff in an email, saying “we are all very shocked and saddened by the news.”
Kirby, 72, had been a licensed pilot since at least 2009, according to public records. The Auburn City Council website says Kirby worked with the Flying Doctors group that travels to rural villages to set up and run free medical clinics.
He was a father of two grown children and had been an Auburn resident for 30 years. Kirby, a self-described moderate, had also previously run for Congress in the 2002 Republican primary and had served on the board of the Auburn Recreation District.
Kirby gained notoriety last week following social media posts criticizing President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and comparing the president’s supporters to KKK members.
He told the Auburn Journal a week ago that his Facebook posts were made on a personal page and that “this has nothing to do with my job. I reposted it.”
He added that he “absolutely” believes Trump is a racist.
Kirby’s posts and statements created an outcry and calls for his recall. He announced during a City Council meeting Monday that he was stepping aside from his post as mayor and was expected to be succeeded by Councilman Daniel Berlant during this week’s council meeting.
This is the fourth plane crash near the Auburn airport in less than a year. In January, a father and son were killed in a crash. Last May, two nonfatal crashes occurred near the airport.
Placer sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Scott said the department’s Critical Accident Investigation team responded to the crash and would participate virtually with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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