According to a recording, a twin-engine plane that killed at least two people and sank in the nose on the outskirts of San Diego, after repeated warnings that it was flying dangerously low.
The Cessna 340 collided with a UPS van, killing the driver, and then crashed into homes in the Santi area of 50,000 people Monday afternoon. The pilot is believed to have died and at least two people were injured on the ground, including a woman who was helped out of a burning house by neighbors.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator was expected to arrive at the scene Tuesday morning, according to an agency tweet.
The plane was en route to San Diego’s Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport when it crashed. Some time ago, when the plane was about half a mile from the runway, an air traffic controller warned the pilot that the plane was too low.
“Low altitude warning, get on immediately, get on the plane,” the controller told the pilot in audio obtained by KSWB-TV.
The controller repeatedly urges the plane to ascend 5,000 feet, and when it stays at 1,500 feet, warns: “Sir, you appear to be landing again.”
The station, which aired the video on KGTV-TV, said it received a viewer showing the plane moving in the sky and then sinking into the neighborhood in a blaze.
The plane was owned by Dr. Sogta Das, who was piloting the plane and died in the crash.
The hospital’s chief medical officer said he worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona.
Das, who is a licensed pilot, lived in San Diego and traveled back and forth from Yuma, according to the website of a non-profit organization he served as director. She is survived by two young sons.
The United Parcel Service of America Inc. confirmed that one of its employees had died, although the employee’s name was not immediately released.
People a block away from the scene said their homes shook with thunder.
Neighbors ran for help and rescued a couple from a burning 70’s home.
Michael Kelly, 43, ran outside barefoot and saw flames engulfing a UPS truck and a house on the corner. He joined two neighbors in the burning house, calling from an open window.
With thick smoke inside the house and a flame licking the roof, Kelly grabbed a woman’s arm from the window and rushed to help her get out. Her arms were burned, and her hair was cut.
“I’m glad I didn’t have to go barefoot,” said Kelly, a probation officer.
At the same time, other neighbors tore down the couple’s fence to protect the woman’s husband from the backyard.
After the couple fled on the sidewalk, Kelly said, the woman asked for help for her dog, which was believed to be inside the house.
“My dog, my dog,” she kept saying.
But a few moments later, there were explosions inside the house. The group assisted the couple until paramedics arrived.
Andrew Pilot, 30, lives with the couple across the street and was working from home when he heard a whisper and then a huge boom.
“My initial idea was that a meteor was coming down,” he said. “I could hear it falling, and then some kind of explosion.”
The pilot looked outside and saw that the UPS truck was on fire. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and then joined the other neighbors, who pulled the board from the couple’s fence to save the woman’s husband.
Eric Hapert, 57, who ran downstairs for help after his house was shaken, said he saw the man walking in the backyard when he pulled the board.
“Both were definitely shocked, but at least they were alive,” said Hepert, a military contractor.
Pilot said there were no houses in the other destroyed house, which was sold just a month ago.