A private pilot was found dead Tuesday and his passenger badly injured in the wreckage of a single-engine plane that apparently had crashed hours earlier into a hillside alongside state Route 76 near the San Luis Rey River.
A woman made a 911 call about 7:15 a.m. to report spotting the wreckage of the private aircraft on the north side of the highway, east of Canyon Drive in Oceanside, said police spokesman Tom Bussey. Crews arrived to find the pilot dead and the sole passenger trapped in the wreckage.
The survivor was extricated and transported by air ambulance to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla for treatment of severe injuries.
Authorities shut down the eastbound lanes of SR-76 between Canyon Drive and Benet Road as a safety precaution and advised motorists to avoid the area.
Footage from the scene showed the wreckage of the airplane resting on a hillside, 10 to 20 feet from the top of the slope.
The cause of the aviation accident was not immediately clear, Bussey said. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were called in to determine the cause of the crash.
The survivor told emergency personnel the plane had gone down around five hours before he was found, Bussey said. The Federal Aviation Administration later reported that the aircraft had taken off at nearby Oceanside Municipal Airport about 9 p.m. Monday and crashed shortly thereafter.
The state route was fully reopened shortly before 1 p.m., the California Highway Patrol reported.
Updated at 3 p.m. Jan. 29, 2019
— From Staff and Wire Reports