Plane crashes into neighborhood near El Cajon, no survivors found
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A small aircraft, carrying four people crashed in flames near Gillespie field last night. This is the second plane crash in less than three months in the east county area. And much like the previous crash. It happened in a residential area. Now the federal aviation administration and national transportation safety board are invest. Joining me with details is San Diego union Tribune, reporter Alex Riggins, Alex. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:27)
Thank you very much for having me.
Speaker 1: (00:28)
So first let's talk about what happened last night. We know, uh, that there were four people riding on the plane. Did anyone survive?
Speaker 2: (00:36)
Unfortunately, there were, there were no survivors. Um, the, there wreckage of the plane was, was pretty bad. It, it doesn't look like anyone could have survived the impact and, and even if there was that small possibility, the wreckage caught fire, uh, immediately. Um, and so there was, uh, it, it was a pretty bad scene and, and there were no survivors.
Speaker 1: (00:58)
Do we know if the plane hit anyone on the ground?
Speaker 2: (01:01)
Very fortunately it did not. Um, it, it seemed to land, uh, pretty close to the center of, of pepper drive. Um, there were houses around there, there was one that was damaged, but extremely fortunately, uh, it did not hit any homes or did not hit any, uh, any cars that were on the road.
Speaker 1: (01:18)
So did the plane crash into any homes or buildings?
Speaker 2: (01:21)
You, no, it, it hit the middle of the street. Um, it, it seems that there was one home that was damaged, but nothing like we saw out in Sant, uh, a couple months back back in October when that plane crashed, um, this time we couldn't get too close to the scene last night. Um, so I couldn't tell exactly, but it, it seems like there was a, maybe a, an outer fence and, and an outer wall, uh, of one home that was damaged
Speaker 1: (01:43)
Before the crash happened. Was there any communication between the pilot and air traffic controllers about a problem while in the air?
Speaker 2: (01:52)
There was some communication. It doesn't seem like there was any sort of problem, you know, in, in the aviation industry, uh, all of this, you know, the, the, where the flight was coming from, I is act very closely. Uh, the air, the air traffic control radio, um, communication is, is all recorded. So there was, uh, a recording of that posted several different recordings of that, um, posted online. Um, it's, it's very troubling audio. Uh, it, it seems that there was no, you know, no mechanical fail your no, no issue with the plane itself. Um, uh, we don't know exactly what happened, but the, but the pilot, um, seems to realize, uh, right before the crash, that kind of what is happening. Um, it's, it it's really troubling to listen to, um, obviously it's a, a human being in their, in their last moments of, of their, uh, realizing what's about to happen. Um, it's, it's really hard to stomach, uh, but it doesn't seem like there was any sort of, at least from what we can tell on the, on the air traffic, uh, recording, it doesn't seem like there was any issue with the plane, but the pilot did realize moments before the crash, uh, you know, that they were, that they were too low and,
Speaker 1: (03:04)
You know, where was the plane headed from and where was it planning on landing?
Speaker 2: (03:09)
So we know that it, it came from John Wayne up in Santana, in orange county. Um, it was heading to Gille field. What we don't know exactly as the, the plane was coming in. Uh, it, it could have landed, um, in kind of a more straightforward, um, you know, directly from the kind of north Northwest, um, direction, uh, coming from orange county. We know that it, instead of landing that way, it, it circled around. Um, and so was, was approaching Gillespie field for in the east, which is, which is a common, you know, approach for, for planes to come in. Uh, I spoke to neighbors out there last night, uh, who, you know, they hear planes all the time coming over, uh, kind of directly over pepper drive. Um, it's, it's almost a straight shot to Gillespie field. So we know that the planes circled and was coming in that way. We don't know exactly why it circled and, and why it didn't make that initial kind of straightforward landing, but it was coming in on, on an approach that is, that is very common coming over pepper drive towards Gillespie field. We just don't know why, uh, it got too low and, and crashed where it did.
Speaker 1: (04:14)
This is the second plane crash in less than three months in an east county neighborhood. Why do you think this has become a recurring problem recently in the area?
Speaker 2: (04:24)
It's, it's really hard to say, um, this one, you know, this one specifically was heading to Gillespie field. It's, it's just a little, you know, a mile or two, um, east of there. And, and it seems that it got too low on the approach, um, which, you know, you, you might expect, uh, every once in a while, um, you know, with, with an airport like that, that's, that's kind of surrounded by residential areas. The October crash in Sandee seemed to be a different, a different situation altogether. Uh, that plane was actually headed to Montgomery field up in Kearney Mesa. Um, we don't know if, if, you know, maybe the pilot, you know, confused the two airports, um, although he, he was very experienced, so that would've been a surprise. Um, so, so we really don't know exactly what happened, um, either of them yet, as far as, you know, if there's any sort of connection, but, you know, with, with Gille field out there, uh, so are, you know, surrounded by Santee El Cajon, Lakeside, it's, it's just, uh, there's, there's kind of bound to be, um, occasional issues. Uh, when you do get a plane going down, you know, either on approach or, or, uh, shortly after takeoff, you know, there's lots of homes, lots of businesses all around. Uh, and so you do kind of get that, you know, if, if, if there is gonna be a crash, there's a good chance it's gonna be in kind of a residential area, uh, right there in that neighborhood. But, but we don't know if there's any sort of connection between the two incidents from, from October and, and last night,
Speaker 1: (05:55)
I've been speaking to San Diego union Tribune, reporter Alex Riggins, who has been covering this story. Alex, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks again for having
Speaker 2: (06:04)
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the small airplane that crashed in a neighborhood near El Cajon was carrying four people and no survivors from the plane have been found.
The crash was reported at about 7:15 p.m. Monday near the 1200 block of Pepper Drive and North Mollison Avenue in the unincorporated Bostonia neighborhood.
The area is a few miles east of Gillespie Field airport, where the plane was scheduled to land.
Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Santee and Lakeside stations immediately responded to the scene along with the Lakeside Fire Protection District, the California Highway Patrol and the El Cajon Police Department.
Kaden Long and his father were among the first people to see the destruction in their East County neighborhood. They took cell phone video and pictures as they processed what was happening in front of them. Long said, "it was like if you were too close to an airplane taking off or landing. It was really loud. The noise shook the whole house and turned off the power."
The flightpath to Gillespie Field leads pilots around two small mountains and through a short valley onto the runway. The path runs parallel to Pepper Drive which is the street where the planed crashed.
Resident Randy Begin lives in a house perched on the side of one of those small mountains. He was home with his daughter and grandchildren when they heard the terrifying sound and then saw the fireball. “I knew it was a plane. We knew it was a plane by the sound of it," said Begin, "there’s not a lot of things that can make a fireball that size.”
Another neighborhood resident caught the plane seconds before the fatal crash as it was recorded on his home NEST camera.
One home was damaged, but no injuries were reported on the ground, officials said.
The sheriff's department tweeted at 8:57 p.m. that the fire was out, and added that the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified and will be handling the investigation. The NTSB said the plane was a Learjet 35A business jet, which seats eight people.
RELATED: ‘You appear to be descending again sir,’ pilot told before deadly Santee crash
According to a spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft departed from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana with four people onboard.
The FAA and NTSB will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide all updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents. The San Diego County Medical Examiner will identify the victims.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has photos or videos from the scene was asked to email email@example.com.
Pepper Drive would remain closed between Topper Lane and North Second Street through Wednesday, officials said.
The crash took down an unknown amount of power lines. San Diego Gas & Electric reported that 350 customers in the El Cajon area were without power. Power was expected to be restored early this morning, according to the utility.
The American Red Cross would provide assistance today to residents who remain affected by the power outage, according to sheriff's officials.