The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

78-year-old woman dies, pilot badly hurt as small plane crashes in San Diego store parking lot

  • Print

SAN DIEGO - A small plane clipped the top of a store before it crashed in the parking lot of a San Diego shopping centre, killing a 78-year-old passenger and seriously injuring the 52-year-old pilot, authorities said.

Several witnesses rushed to douse the plane's flames and pull out the two women, the only people aboard. A man who helped was treated for minor cuts and burns, but no one on the ground was hurt in the crash.

The single-engine 1988 Mooney M-20L went down Wednesday in a parking lot that serves a Costco and a Target store in the Kearny Mesa neighbourhood.

The plane bounced while landing at nearby Montgomery Field, continued westbound and went down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

However, helicopter pilot Vince Carter said he had taken off from the field when he heard the pilot tell the control tower in a radio transmission that she had lost power on takeoff. "She said she lost power and she was going down and that was it," he told KFMB-TV.

It wasn't immediately clear which version of events was correct.

The plane clipped the top of the Target store and knocked down a light pole, police Lt. Steve Behrendt said.

It spun around and finally landed in the parking lot in a loading dock area away from the main entrances, and no cars were there, San Diego Fire Department spokesman Lee Swanson said.

The plane caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused. The passenger had serious burns, and she died at a hospital, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office. The woman was initially described by a fire department spokesman as 80 years old, but the medical examiner's office later said she was 78.

The pilot also had major injuries, but she was expected to survive, Behrendt said.

Gregg Smith was working in a nearby office building and saw the plane in trouble. It nearly hit his building, he said.

"I knew they didn't have enough power to do the things they needed to do," he told KNSD-TV. "I knew it was going down."

Smith said the plane left his view, but he then heard a loud thud and then the crash. "The next thing I saw was a bunch of black smoke," he said.

He ran outside as he called 911, Smith said.

About 15 to 20 people were standing around the plane, some with fire extinguishers, he said. They put out the fire before it reached the plane's fuel tank, and they pulled the women out, Smith said.

The white plane appeared to be mostly intact, but its nose and one wing were torn up.

"The front of the passenger compartment, the engine is essentially broken off," Swanson said. "The landing gear is off; it's lying flat on its belly. There's some debris for several yards in each direction."

Carter, the helicopter pilot who was in the air and heard the pilot's last radio transmissions saying she was going down, said the plane's pilot may have helped save lives.

"This is a miracle and testament to her skill as a pilot," he told KNSD-TV. "This could have very easily killed a lot of people. You could imagine, just shopping at Target and a plane comes through the roof full of fuel.

"She stalled it out pretty much perfectly in the only spot she possibly could have."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bowman questioned on financial solutions for city

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A one day old piglet glances up from his morning feeding at Cedar Lane Farm near Altona.    Standup photo Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press
  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google