Sounds like this will be pilot error. I have heard statements on other forums that it's not a good idea to take passengers until one accumulates enough hours I'm assuming to get you past the stupid mistakes anyone makes while learning something unfortunately he took the family with him. Sounds like he had a promising life ahead of him too. I once took a intro flight with a friend from work in a 172 we both paid for 30 minute flights but my friend wanted to ride alone him and I would switch off I asked the instructor repeatedly if we would be okay with the weight I'm 215 and my co worker was over 230 at least I was worried about it. The instructor said we were right at the limit. He let each of us take off after explaining what to do everything seemed fine, but after the flight was over the instructor said he noticed our positive rate of climb was very slow compared to what he was used to. I was concerned my coworker didn't give his correct weight. I know these Cessna's can get over weight fairly quickly with a 3 guys over 210 lucky for us the instructor was a 22 year old weighed only about 120lbs. In this case with the flaps extended the pilot was thinking the issue was weight and didn't realize it was the flaps as well.