Local developer and California Bank of Commerce Director Peter Branagh was killed with his wife Mona in a small plane crash over the weekend, bank officials confirmed Monday.
A spokesman at California Bank of Commerce offices said details were not being released as family members were still getting word of and processing the news. The couple was believed to have been flying from Utah to Aspen, Colorado, where they maintained a home, when their plane went down.
"We've lost a great director, a great man, a great friend," a company official said Monday. "We are withholding further statement out of respect for the family."
Branagh, 59, was also President of Branagh Development, Inc., based in Lafayette, and was involved with several ongoing development projects in Lamorinda.
"This is a very sad and tragic day for our community," Lafayette City Manager Steve Falk said when told of the news Monday. "I had the privilege to work very closely with Peter over the last decade on several different projects. I can say that he was a man of the highest caliber, of supreme integrity, a fellow who had a supreme focus on quality. He refused to build anything that would degrade the community and he insisted upon building developments that enhanced communities."
Branagh Development has several pending projects in Lafayette, including the Woodbury condominiums located behind the Veterans Memorial Hall, a proposed office building development on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and Risa Rd., and a project on Happy Valley Rd. Branagh Development also recently finished the Hidden Oaks development in Lafayette.
Lafayette Planning and Building Manager Niroop Srivasta said she would miss working with Branagh.
"It was such a pleasure and privilege to work with him. He was a man of his word and somebody who really cared about Lafayette," said Srivasta.
Mona Branagh's taste echoed that of her husband's affinity for traditional architecture and classic design. She owned a Danville-based interior design business. Friends of the Branaghs wrote throughout the morning Monday, seeking information and remembering the couple.
"Peter was a man of his word," Falk remembered. "If he said he was going to do something he would do it. Beyond all that, he was just an incredibly nice guy and very easy to be around and I’m going miss him."
Initial reports indicate that a debris field found in Sevier County, central Utah, was wreckage from a small airplane that went missing on a flight from California to Colorado Saturday night.
Officials in Utah said a privately hired helicopter spotted debris in the Sevier County's Saleratus Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Salina. Investigators are attempting to confirm if the wreckage is that of a Cirrus SR22 registered to Springhill Aviation LLC in Danville.
Two people were aboard the downed aircraft, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a press release, but their names were not given.
The plane was traveling from northern California to Aspen, Colo. when it was reported overdue and family members started calling for assistance. Radar tracking last placed the plane in Sevier County. Reports that the aircraft may have encountered a storm in the area could not be immediately confirmed.
Civil Air Patrol search aircraft as well as a plane from the Emery County Sheriff’s Office and a private helicopter contracted by the family joined in the search. The Cirrus SR22 is equipped with the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS), an emergency parachute capable of lowering the entire aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an engine failure.
It is not known if that system was deployed prior to the crash.
Patch writer Hannah Strumwasser contributed to this report.