The Los Angeles father and his daughters died after the small plane they were on crashed in the Caribbean Sea.
LOS ANGELES -- The former wife of Hollywood actor Christian Oliver has paid a mournful tribute to him and their two young daughters after the girls and their father were killed in a small plane crash near a private island in the eastern Caribbean.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic plane accident on January 4, 2024, which took the lives of our beloved family members," said a statement posted Friday on the Instagram account of Wundabar Pilates, where Jessica Klepser is a regional manager in California. "Our daughters, Madita (12), and Annik (10), along with their father Christian, were returning from a holiday in the Caribbean when the single-engine plane they were traveling in experienced engine trouble and fell into the ocean."
The crash occurred Thursday just west of Petit Nevis island near Bequia as the plane headed for nearby St. Lucia, according to police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The pilot, Robert Sachs, also died.
The Klepser family's statement was published by Amy Jordan, the owner of Wundabar Pilates. Jordan said she was "blessed to have had Madita and Annik in our lives for many years, and cherish the memories of pool parties, sleepovers, school performances and Disneyland trips to hold in my heart. My focus at this time will be on supporting Jessica and my daughter, who was Annik's best friend."
In their tribute, Klepser and family described Madita as "a vibrant 7th-grade student at Louis Armstrong Middle School" and said she was known for "her lively spirit and excelled in academics, dance, singing, and performances.
"Annik, a 4th-grade student at Wonderland Ave Elementary School, was recognized for her gentle yet strong demeanor. She was always the first to offer a kind word or a comforting hug. Her passions included basketball, swimming, and various forms of art," the statement said. "The deep bond, infectious laughter, and adventurous spirit shared by Madita and Annik will be profoundly missed in their communities."
Louis Armstrong Middle School and Wonderland Avenue Elementary School are located in Sherman Oaks and the Hollywood Hills, respectively.
Oliver, whose real name is Christian Klepser, and his daughters are survived by Jessica Klepser in Los Angeles. The girls also leave behind their grandparents, several aunts, uncles and cousins in Germany.
"Christian, an actor in Europe and the US, and a real estate agent with a broad network of close friends worldwide, is survived by Jessica, his parents and sister in Germany. His loss will be deeply felt by all who knew him," the elegy said, while asking that the family's request for privacy be honored.
A GoFundMe was created by comedian-actress Sarah Silverman.
Donations to the fundraiser "will help cover the cost of returning Christian and the girls home, funeral and memorial services, legal expenses, and will go a long way in support of Jessica and the extended family during this terribly difficult time," Silverman said in a statement.
It wasn't immediately clear what caused the plane crash, according to police.
Authorities said fishermen and divers in the area went to the crash site to help as the St. Vincent and Grenadines Coast Guard headed to the area.
"The selfless and brave acts of the fishermen and divers is very much appreciated," police said.
The 51-year-old Oliver was born in Germany and had dozens of crediting film and television roles, including in the 2008 film "Speed Racer" and "The Good German," a 2006 World War II film by Steven Soderbergh that starred George Clooney and Cate Blanchett.
He appeared throughout season two of the 1990s series "Saved by the Bell: The New Class," playing a Swiss transfer student named Brian Keller.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.