Updated at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 3, 2015
Two men were fatally injured Thursday when a light plane owned by an aviation school crashed into a driveway in a residential neighborhood adjacent to Gillespie Field.
The Piper Cherokee had just taken off from the El Cajon general-aviation airport when it went down for unknown reasons about 9:15 a.m.
The single-engine airplane clipped the red-tile roof of a home before crashing in front of a next-door house on Paseo de los Castillos in Santee, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.
— Fox 5 San Diego (@fox5sandiego) September 3, 2015
The aircraft hit two parked vehicles, flipped over and caught fire, witness Craig Liley told CBS News 8.
One of the occupants died inside the crumpled and upside-down plane. It took emergency crews almost a half-hour to free the other man. Medics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Rich Smith, division chief with the Santee Fire Department.
The names of the victims — reportedly a flight instructor and a student — were withheld pending family notification.
The plane is owned by Volar Corp., which operates Golden State Flying Club in El Cajon, according to FAA records.
Liley, who lives near the scene of the crash, described hearing the engine of the aircraft “sputtering badly” overhead just before it went down. He looked up to see the Cherokee in the midst of a hard turn, seemingly as the pilot was attempting to double back to the nearby airport for an emergency landing.
“And you could see he was not going to make it,” Liley said.
Another neighbor, Tommy McCormick, 13, told reporters he had been home sick, sleeping, when he heard a loud impact that he initially took to be a car crash.
“Then, when I woke up, I heard people screaming, ‘fire,”‘ the teen said.
—City News Service
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