Three die as plane crashes into homes

No one on ground in­jured; 2 Cal­i­for­nia houses de­stroyed.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Amy Taxin

Three peo­ple died and two were in­jured, one crit­i­cally, when a small plane car­ry­ing them home from a cheer­lead­ing com­pe­ti­tion slammed into two South­ern Cal­i­for­nia homes and sparked a rag­ing fire, au­thor­i­ties and wit­nesses said.

The twin-en­gine plane with five oc­cu­pants had just taken off from River­side Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port on Mon­day, in­tend­ing to re­turn to San Jose af­ter the week­end event at Dis­ney­land when it crashed about a mile away in the res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood, River­side Fire Chief Michael Moore said.

Two women were hos­pi­tal­ized, one with crit­i­cal burns and the other in sta­ble con­di­tion, po­lice Of­fi­cer Ryan Rails­back said Tues­day.

A man, an­other woman and a teenage girl were killed, Rails­back said.

The crash de­stroyed two subur­ban houses and sent de­bris fly­ing down the block of sin­gle-fam­ily homes. One of the plane’s pro­pel­lers landed on a rooftop.

“It’s un­rec­og­niz­able re­ally as a plane,” said Rails­back, adding that it was “re­mark­able” no one on the ground was hurt.

One of the de­stroyed houses was empty at the time, and a man es­caped the neigh­bor­ing home with­out suf­fer­ing in­juries. Nearly all of about 40 res­i­dents evac­u­ated af­ter the fiery crash re­turned home.

One of the sur­vivors was thrown from a back seat of the plane and suf­fered only mi­nor in­juries, Moore said.

Three wit­nesses told TV sta­tions a sur­vivor was able to talk to fire­fight­ers about what had hap­pened as she was taken to a hospi­tal, Moore said.

Po­lice said the air­port’s con­trol tower called lo­cal au­thor­i­ties af­ter the plane went down. In­ves­ti­ga­tors with the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board will try to de­ter­mine what oc­curred in the min­utes af­ter take­off.

Wit­ness Brian Marsh, who had been driv­ing nearby, said he saw the Cessna turn mo­ments be­fore the crash.

“All of a sud­den it turned into a free fall,” he told the Press-En­ter­prise. “Flames were ev­ery­where. Smoke was bil­low­ing out.”

Ken Samp­son told the news­pa­per the flames shot so high that he could see them from his house six blocks away.

Au­thor­i­ties did not pro­vide the names or ages of the vic­tims.

Of­fi­cials with the Jr. USA Na­tion­als cheer­lead­ing com­pe­ti­tion did not im­me­di­ately re­turn calls Tues­day.

The two homes that were hit di­rectly were de­stroyed, and there was mi­nor dam­age to neigh­bor­ing houses.

THE PRESS-EN­TER­PRISE

Fire­fight­ers are on the scene of a plane crash in River­side, Calif., on Mon­day. The deadly crash in­jured sev­eral when a small plane wrecked into two homes.

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