At least 2 killed after small plane crashes in California neighborhood


SANTEE, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — At least two people have died and more are hurt after a small plane crashed in a neighborhood of a city outside San Diego.

The Associated Press reports the plane was a twin-engine Cessna. Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita says two people died at the scene and two are hospitalized in unknown condition.

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to be at the scene Tuesday morning, according to an agency tweet.

The plane was owned by Dr. Sugata Das, who may have been piloting the aircraft and died in the crash.

He worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona, the hospital’s chief medical officer said.

Das, a licensed pilot, lived in San Diego and commuted back and forth to Yuma, according to a website for a non-profit organization he served as director. He leaves two young sons.

The second person who died was a UPS employee.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” a company statement says. “We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.”

Neighbor Allison Rea said on NewsNation’s “Morning in America” the UPS driver was well known in the community.

“He is friendly and kind. He speaks to the children. He honks the horn for them and leaves smiley face notes on people’s packages,” Rea said.

The plane was heading to land at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego when it crashed. Shortly before, when the plane was about a half-mile from the runway, an air traffic controller alerted the pilot that the aircraft was too low.

A fire spokesperson told NewsNation affiliate KSWB 10 homes were destroyed, and another two were damaged.

Witnesses and nearby residents say the community is used to hearing civilian and military planes, but this one was different.

“I heard this unmistakable straining engine of an airplane,” Henri Bradley said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Monday. “There was about a two-second break when it stopped, and then just an incredible explosion — a blast that shook our house to the foundation, which was about 1/8 of a mile away from the place where the plane went down.”

A man at the scene told KSWB’s Jaime Chambers that he got a call from a neighbor saying his mom and dad were rushed to the hospital.

“Don’t know the extent of their injuries,” the man told KSWB. “I do know from talking to some of the neighbors that it was more bumps and bruises. I think they were lucky they were in the back of the house when it happened because it came in the front. Michael, the neighbor, pulled my mom out of the back window and my stepdad was in the backyard so they broke down the fence to get him out.”

School leaders at Santana High School, located blocks from the crash, said on Twitter that all students were “secure.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

In 2015, there was a fatal plane crash in Santee, about four miles southwest of Monday’s crash. One person was killed and another hurt when the plane crashed in the driveway of a home after taking off from Gillespie.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

The Associated Press and Brittney Donovan/KSWB contributed to this report.

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