Auburn Mayor Bill Kirby was identified as the person killed when a small plane went down near Auburn Airport just after 11 a.m. local time, FOX 40 Sacramento reported.
The other person on the plane suffered minor injuries and was transported to a hospital, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Kirby, 72, was piloting the plane and had been licensed since at least 2009, the Bee reported. The urologist worked with the group Flying Doctors that helps run free medical clinics in rural villages.
He was the father of two grown children and had lived in Auburn for 30 years. He ran for Congress as a Republican in the state’s 2002 primary, according to the Bee.
Kirby’s family issued a statement through a Facebook post by Sacramento political consultant Jeff Raimondo.
“Our family is devastated by this tragic news,” the statement said. “Bill devoted decades of enthusiastic and loving support to his family, his patients and the Auburn community he loved so much. We will miss him immensely but take comfort in knowing he died while flying – one of the other loves of his life.”
Kirby had taken heat from Auburn residents last week during a city council meeting that was conducted by video because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In one of the posts, the mayor allegedly shared a photo of a Ku Klux Klan hood, with the caption, “Good news for Trump supporters is that most of them already have masks,” FOX 40 reported. The post was later taken down.
Kirby told residents he blamed President Trump for a lack of proper gear and testing capabilities in his work as a physician.
“This president has put us all at risk,” Kirby said.
During the city council meeting, officials and the public heard a string of voicemails that the council had received from residents infuriated by Kirby’s online posts.
“These comments are hateful, degrading, bigoted and more consistent with the mentality of a 15-year-old,” one voicemail said, according to FOX 40.
The mayor appeared remorseful at the meeting when he talked about the posts.
“I spent 40 years dedicating my life to serving the community of Auburn as a physician and through my volunteer efforts. Am I perfect? No. We’re all a little flawed,” Kirby said.
Kirby said he planned to step down as mayor at the next council meeting on April 27.
The plane crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, California state fire officials told the station.
Auburn is a city of about 13,000 residents located about 33 miles northeast of Sacramento.
Fox News’ Jack Durschlag contributed to this story.