The mayor of a northern California town who recently announced he would step down after making controversial remarks about Donald Trump was killed in a plane crash over the weekend.
John Kirby, 72, was a practicing urologist and surgeon who had been politically active in the town of Auburn for decades. He announced he would retire from his duties as mayor April 13 after triggering an outcry with a Facebook post he shared a week earlier taking aim at far-right racism and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 18, Dr. Kirby was piloting a single-engine Cessna airplane that crashed for unknown reasons near the Auburn Municipal Airport shortly after take-off. Dr. Kirby was killed in the crash. A passenger in the plane survived with minor injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the crash. The NTSB normally issues a preliminary accident report within a couple of weeks of opening an investigation and a final report within 12-18 months.
Dr. Kirby announced April 13 that he would “hand the gavel” to City Councilman Daniel Berlant at the April 27 City Council meeting, according to the Sacramento Bee. He previously said he would retire as mayor later in the year due to a planned surgical procedure.
An emergency session to vote on the planned transfer of mayoral duties that had been scheduled for Monday, April 20, was canceled after news of Dr. Kirby’s death broke.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “Kirby spent three decades in Auburn, crafting a distinguished reputation in a community of about 14,000 people. He was a respected physician, a community benefactor, an eager volunteer, an avid lover of the arts and the father of two children, daughter Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez and son James Kirby.”
Dr. Kirby regarded himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” with more centrist positions. Those who knew him said he was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and extremist politics. He won the Mayor’s seat in the conservative town of 14,000 in a landslide victory against another Republican.
Public records obtained by the Sacramento Bee show that Dr. Kirby had been licensed as a pilot since at least 2009.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.