Fund unveiled for families of real estate agents killed in plane crash

Pacific Union International announced a fund for family members left behind, after 3 agents with the company were killed en route to the Tom Ferry Success Summit

Coping with the tragic plane crash that took the lives of three of their own real estate agents Sunday afternoon, Pacific Union International executives revealed late Monday a fund to support the shattered families left behind.

The fund, to be announced in detail later today, will provide for the families of Pacific Union International agents Lara Shepherd, Floria Hakimi and Nasim Ghanadan, who all died when their Cessna 414 plane crashed in a strip mall parking lot in Santa Ana, California.

Lara Shepherd’s husband, Scott Shepherd, the pilot of the plane, and Navid Hakimi, Floria Hakimi’s 32-year-old son, also died in the crash. The group of five were traveling approximately 400 miles to attend the Tom Ferry Success Summit in Anaheim, California.

“At our meeting today there were tears and sorrow, joy, disbelief and feelings of loss,” Pacific Union CEO Mark Mclaughlin said following an emotional gathering at the company’s Danville office, where the agents worked. “Stories were told about our teammates that inspired amazing laughter, a sense of pride and lots of tears. We’re left with memories of our shared work and lives together that we will hold forever.”

What happened?

At around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, a small Cessna 414 aircraft, declared an emergency landing before crashing into a parking lot on South Bristol Street in Santa Ana. The Orange County Fire Authority confirmed there were no casualties on the ground.

The plane crashed into a parked car, but the vehicle’s owner was inside one of the stores shopping at the time, Tony Bommarito of the Orange County Fire Authority told CBS News.

Firefighters look through the wreckage of the crash. (Photo courtesy Orange County Fire Authority)

“I don’t know anything about what this pilot did or what he was thinking but it could have been much more tragic … The fact that there was no injuries on ground is a miracle in itself,” Bommarito told CBS News.

The five victims had left in the small plane from Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, California and were traveling to Anaheim, California to participate in the Tom Ferry Success Summit real estate industry conference. Their plane was scheduled to land at nearby John Wayne Airport.

“Floria, Lara and Nasim were passionate Tom Ferry followers,” said Mclaughlin.

Dramatic dashcam footage and cellphone video obtained by CBS News showed the plane nose diving before striking the ground.

Who were the victims?

Floria Hakimi, a 62-year-old Realtor at Pacific Union, had served in the real estate industry for more than 25 years and was a founding partner of Empire Realty Associates, which was acquired by Pacific Union International in October 2017. She was on the plane with her 32-year-old son, Navid Hakimi. They leave behind Navid’s 2-year-old son and his 36-year-old brother, Aden.

From left, Lara Shepard, Floria Hakimi and Nasim Ghanadan, the three Pacific Union International agents killed in the crash.

Lara Shepherd, a 42-year-old Realtor at Pacific Union, was also previously a member of the Empire Realty Associates team, and came over during the acquisition. She and her 53-year-old husband Scott, the pilot of the plane, leave behind two small children, ages 5 and 7. Scott Shepherd was a real estate developer, according to his wife’s company biography. 

Nasim Ghanadan, a 29-year-old real estate consultant with Pacific Union and the most junior of the victims, leaves her mother, father, two sisters and a brother. Her brother, Aryan Ghanadan, told CBS News, she viewed Hakimi as a mentor in the industry. 

How is real estate supporting the victims’ families?

Details are preliminary, but Pacific Union confirmed it would establish a fund to support the immediate family members left behind by the tragedy.

“I know our entire Pacific Union family is mourning our loss,” said McLaughlin. “We remain very mindful of the future emotional and education needs of the families left behind.”

There are currently no public GoFundMe pages established for any of the victims.

Update: Attendees at the Tom Ferry Success Summit observed a moment of silence for the victims, who were on their way to attend the event. At the event, donations were collected from attendees in the amount of $11,500 and Tom Ferry and his wife Kathy Ferry matched that contribution for a total of $23,000 to be sent directly to the families of the victims, according to a spokesperson for Tom Ferry.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no details on the fund had been released by Pacific Union.  

If you know of any fundraisers for families of the victims, contact patrick@inman.com  

Email Patrick Kearns