3 dead in plane crash near Santee

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SANTEE, Calif. – Two women and a man died in a small-plane crash Saturday in the Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve, north of Santee, officials said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the single-engine Lancair IV-P crashed under unknown circumstances around 10:15 a.m. about three miles north of Santee.

”Sheriff’s and fire officials are reporting there were three people on board and all were killed,” Gregor said.

Gregor said the pilot took off in a homemade model airplane, part of the country’s amateur-built fleet, from Montgomery Field for Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix.

Phoenix family ID'd in plane crashCHP officer Robert Catano said a hiker in the area witnessed a small plane go down after hearing a loud boom.

“He attempted to hike to where it was but couldn’t reach it,” Catano said.  ”The hiker said it looked like the plane may have been doing stunts, and never came out of it.”

Catano said a sheriff’s helicopter found the crash site in the area of Sycamore Canyon, north of Santee and east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The plane earlier had been reported missing, Catano said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident along with the FAA.

Neither the FAA nor the NTSB released crash victims’ identities. Gregor said a tail number for the plane could not be confirmed until next of kin had been notified.

Gregor said the NTSB investigator usually posts a basic preliminary report on the agency’s website within a week or two of an accident.  However, he said it typically takes the agency months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.

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