Three die as plane crashes into homes
No one on ground injured; 2 California houses destroyed.
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.
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.