By Tom and Nadin Abbott
October 11, 2021 (Santee) The call came in at approximately 12:15 p.m. to the Heartland Dispatch center. A small plane had gone down in a residential neighborhood of Santee, initally reported at 9915 N. Magnolia Ave.
The plane, later identified as a Cessna 340 twin engine six-seater by the Federal Aviation Administration, crashed into at least one house that was destroyed by the impact, which was actually on the corner of Green Castle and Jeremy. Neighboring homes also suffered damage from the flames.
Two people were confirmed killed on scene and two transported to the hospital, according to Santee Assistant Chief Justin Matsushita. The injured were in the first house hit. Their condition is unknown, but they were conscious when transported.
Chief Matsushita said this was a high speed crash from the debris pattern. It went for about a block.
A video sent by a viewer to ECM news partner 10 News shows the actual crash, with the plane plummeting to earth at a steep angle, followed by a fiery explosion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2NWtIyiSHo. The crash site is near Gillespie Field, where several other crashes in neighborhoods in recent years have raised safety concerns among residents.However, authorities confirm that the flight was bound to Montgomery Field from Yuma, Arizona.
The Chief described the scene as "brutal," adding that Urban Search and Rescue Teams were on scene. He also said that there were "dozens of firefighters from multiple agencies on scene." He confirmed that were is major damage to two homes.
We arrived early in the incident, after the fire was put out by arriving fire units. There was still a smell of aviation fuel that wafted from the ground, and San Diego Fire dispatched their Hazardous Materials team. The dispatch included units from all over the central area of the county, and it was about three companies worth of fire personnel.
We were able to talk to several of the neighbors. Kelly, who asked that her last name not be published, told us that she was at home when the accident happened. "It sounded like a car or something, and then like an explosion. So I was sitting in my living room and then I saw a bunch of stuff flying into my backyard."
She added that the fire was big, but that the fire department "got it under control, really, really fast. " We also got permission from Kelly to walk into her backyard and there was debris everywhere. There were small pieces and large pieces, including a part of a wing.
We also saw some human remains.
We got permission from a second neighbor to photograph inside a residence, where an engine had landed.
We were able to talk to a few other neighbors who confirmed some of these elements. They were all shaken up by the tragedy. One of the neighbors said that his brother lost cable service all the way on the far side of Mast Boulevard on the other side of Santana High School. Impacted residents could not watch breaking news coverage on the crash due to the cable outage.
As we walked further into the scene we saw a UPS truck, as well as one of the destroyed houses. Besides the truck there was a body covered by a yellow tarp.
The Assistant Chief would not confirm identities of the two people who died, pending notification of relatives.
As we were leaving, authorities were waiting for the FAA to show up.
This scene will be closed down for some time as federal officials conduct the investigation.