Friends mourn San Benito ‘power couple’ who died in plane crash

by Benjamin Treviño | July 14th, 2023 | Blog

Valley Morning Star Staff Report

SAN BENITO — Family and friends remember Abigail Tellez-Vargas and Manuel Vargas-Regalado as San Benito High School sweethearts who worked together to build the American dream in California.

Earlier this week, they were among six people killed when their business jet crashed in the rolling hills of Riverside, Calif.

The couple left behind five children.

High school sweethearts

In 2008, City Commissioner Pete Galvan was among the couple’s class when they graduated from San Benito High School.

“They were high school sweethearts,” he said in an interview. “Manny and Abigail were the epitome of high school sweethearts that inspired the rest of our class. They were the inspirational couple here in San Benito whose success and inspiration we cherished. They stayed together through high school, starting their professional careers and building their success. Over social media, they became that power couple we all looked up to.”

American dream

At San Benito High School, Mayra Flores’ sister was also part of the couple’s graduating class.

“It’s so sad,” Flores, the former Republican District 34 congresswoman running to recapture the post a year after making Texas history as the first Mexican-born woman to win a congressional seat and the first Republican in more than 150 years to represent District 34, said in an interview. “They came from San Benito, moving to California, kept hustling and achieved the American dream. They left behind five beautiful children.”

On July 10, Flores’ Facebook post described the couple as “an inspiration to us all.”

“My deepest heartfelt condolences to the Téllez and Vargas family and the four other people on that plane,” she posted. “My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Manny and Abby were San Benito High School sweethearts living the American dream with their five beautiful children. They were truly an inspiration to us all. My heart hurts for their children. Please keep them in your prayers. Hug your loved ones — say I love you. Tomorrow is never promised. Rest in peace, Abigail and Manny.”


The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the Cessna C550’s July 8 pre-dawn crash near French Valley Airport in the Murrieta Hills.

About an hour after leaving Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas at about 3:15 a.m., the business jet was trying to land in heavy fog when it crashed about 500 feet short of the single-runway, bursting into flames during its second approach to the airport in Murrieta.

Riese Lenders, 25, of Rancho Palos Verdes, who had received his commercial pilot’s certificate in April, was piloting the plane along with Vargas-Regalado, 32, the co-pilot, at the time of the crash, Michael Morris, the plane’s owner, said.

Morris said he had received a call from Vargas-Regalado, manager and lead pilot of his flight company, who told him he had wanted to take a few people to Las Vegas in one of the planes.

Tellez-Vargas, 33, was a real estate agent from Murrieta when she died along with her husband. The other victims were Ibrahem Razick, 46, of Temecula; Alma Razick, 51, of Temecula; and Lindsey Gleiche, 31, of Huntington Beach.

J. Gonzalez Law Firm extends its condolences

On behalf of J. Gonzalez and the entire staff of the J. Gonzalez Law Firm, we extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of Abigail Tellez-Vargas and Manuel Vargas-Regalado. As evidenced by the outpouring of affection from across the San Benito area, Abigail and Manuel served as inspirations and role models for many in the community.

It is our sincerest hope that their legacies will provide a beacon of inspiration in the San Benito community for generations to come.




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