The head of Stern Produce Co., Phoenix, and two family members died Dec. 29 when their airplane crashed into a northern San Diego County hillside en route to Phoenix.

William Stern Jr., the 65-year-old president of Stern Produce; his wife Jennifer, 53; and daughter Katelyn, 19, died in the crash, according to news reports.

Stern’s son, William “Billy” Stern III, said in a Dec. 31 statement that the company will continue its commitment to quality and will remain family owned.

“While there are many questions left to answer regarding the accident itself, there are no questions regarding the future of our company,” according to the statement. “With Bill’s leadership and planning we will maintain our current high level of customer service, quality products and operations to our customers.”

Billy Stern is now president of Stern Produce, according to news reports.

Founded in 1917, Stern Produce has warehouses in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson.

In addition to conventional produce, the company offers micro-herbs, specialty and heirloom produce, and fresh-cut produce.

Stern was piloting a single-engine, four-seat Lancair IV-P, an experimental aircraft built from a kit.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.