By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine
Photo: Screenshot, ECM news partner 10 News
February 6, 2018 (Santee) – Dr. John Longhurst from U.C. Irvine Health and his wife, Cherill, died in a plane crash into a construction yard in Santee this morning. A dog onboard was also killed; a second dog was injured and remains in guarded condition, ECM news partner 10 News reports. View video.
The couple was reportedly visiting their son, Christopher, a doctor at U.C. San Diego Health.
Witnesses including teenagers on their way to school saw the Cessna flying erratically, apparently out of control shortly before the crash at Cuyamaca and Prospect streets. Some witnesses attempted aid but the plane was destroyed on impact.
Santee Fire responded to the scene, as well as representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. The pilot reportedly tried to return to Gillespie Field after encountering mechanical trouble but was unable to make it back to the airport.
An investigation into the crash will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that prior to this tragedy, 214 aviation accidents related to Gillespie Field have occurred since 1978. While not all were crashes, the accidents resulted in 17 fatalities and 22 injuries, as well as destruction of 10 planes and serious damage to 60 additional planes.