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Pilot Among 11 Killed in Skydiving Plane Crash Was 'Loving Father' Who Followed Dream to Fly

Karen Mizoguchi

A skydiving plane crashed in Hawaii on Friday, killing all 11 on board, including its French pilot, Jerome Renck.

“He was truly one of a kind,” his brother Quentin tells PEOPLE of Jerome, who “loved traveling.”

“One of the happiest and smartest humans I have ever met,” Quentin adds. “He was always the kind of guy to make funny faces in all the pictures.”

Authorities initially said nine died in the crash — three customers of the Oahu Parachute Center skydiving company and six employees — but the Hawaii Department of Transportation later confirmed the death toll rose to 11.

“The plane went down soon after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield with no survivors,” the department tweeted about the incident, which is now the worst civil aviation accident in the country since 2011.

Witnesses told police the aircraft was flying at low altitude after takeoff and flipped twice before hitting the ground nose first and exploding into flames.

Renck, 42, had worked as a corporate businessman for years before he chose to finally seek his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot.

RELATED: 11 Killed in Skydiving Plane Crash as Family of Those Onboard Likely Witnessed It Go Down

Bruce Asato/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP

“Jerome had an MBA from one of the most prestigious business schools in France, and did exchange programs with prestigious universities in the U.S. He worked in finance in London for many years and decided to quit that life to start fresh,” Quentin says.

“He did a trip around the world for a year and a half. Then, he decided to follow a childhood dream of becoming a pilot,” says the grieving sibling. “He loved his new life. He loved Hawaii and had made great human connections there.”

Quentin adds, “He was a loving father to his 13-year-old daughter. He will be sorely missed by anyone who’s ever met him.”

The identities of all the victims have not been released by officials. However, the family of skydiving videographer Casey Williamson, 29, told the Associated Press they confirmed to Honolulu police that he was on the flight.

“Casey Williamson was one of a kind who lived life to the fullest,” the family said in a statement. “He was a free-spirited lover of life and people. He was a friend to all he met. His smile and love for life were contagious. Our family will not be the same without our sweet Casey.”

Colorado couple Bryan and Ashley Weikel, who were celebrating their first wedding anniversary on vacation, were also on the flight, the Weikel family confirmed to CBS affiliate KCNC.

“They wanted to go so bad,” Bryan’s mother, Kathy Reed-Gerk, told the outlet. “I begged him to not go skydiving. I begged him not to go.”

On Saturday, Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves told reporters that family members of skydivers aboard the plane were in the vicinity and likely witnessed the crash as it happened.

“It is very difficult. In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic aircraft incident we’ve had,” Neves said during a news conference, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Witness Steven Tickemyer told the AP the plane crash “all happened in about 20 to 30 seconds.”

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate the fatal plane crash.

According to USA Today, NTSB records show the same aircraft, which was built in 1967, “stalled three times and spun another three during a 2016 skydiving flight in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, forcing 14 skydivers to jump to safety.”