1 dead, 1 injured when small plane crashes near house in Santee

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SAN DIEGO -  One person died and another was critically injured Thursday when a single engine plane crashed in the driveway of a house in Santee Thursday morning, authorities said.

Emergency crews went to the home in the 9000 block of Paseo de Los Castillo after the crash was reported at 9:15 a.m. near Gillespie Field in Santee.  The house is located at the end of Gillespie Field's runway.

The plane, a single-engine Piper Cherokee, was registered to Volar Corporation, a flight school known as Golden State Flying Club based in El Cajon. Two people were on board the plane, which crashed for unknown reasons just after taking off from Gillespie Field, according to Ian Gregory with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Crews worked to free the a person who reportedly survived the crash from the wreckage. An ambulance drove away from the scene, but it was not clear if it anyone was in it.

"I heard the sputtering of a plane – a sound that you hear right before a plane is about to die," said Greg, a homeowner who lives two blocks from the crash site.

Tommy McCormick, 13, was home sick from school and woke up to a loud explosion.

"I thought it was a car crash and heard people screaming 'Fire!'" McCormick said. "I looked outside and saw the plane had crashed. Two people who live there ran outside and were looking in the plane, but couldn't do anything to get the pilot out."

McCormick's mother Debbie told FOX 5 that she received a call from him right after the plane crashed.

"Living near the airport you expect this might happen. It's just scary that it was a day when he was home sick," Debbie said.

The two people who live in the house where the plane crashed were "alright," according to Debbie.

Golden State Flying Club co-owner Richard Essery said the school has been around since 1968. They fly out of Gillespie Field about 10 times a day and haven't had a crash until today, he said.

An official at the flight school released a statement:

"We are very saddened by the tragic accident involving one of our aircraft this morning. Our hearts go out to those on board and their families.  At this time the NTSB, FAA and law enforcement are investigating the crash and we'll learn more when the facts being to become available."

[This story originally reported the plane had crashed into a house.]

Google Map for coordinates 32.829364 by -116.988969.


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  • Elaine

    We have been here 30 years and have seen massive changes in the airport lately. Flying way lower than they used to, cutting the pattern way short constantly. One afternoon about a year ago my husband was out in driveway and saw a Jet heading west to land and a small plane heading from south going north right toward the jet! (cutting pattern) – heard my husband shout and we both saw the plane go directly UNDER THE JET! I called the FAA and the airport manager but I’m sure neither did anything! again this is a direct result of CUTTING the pattern– if the small plane had been on the pattern or close to it he would not have been heading directly for the side of the Jet! he would have been going next to him toward the airport. I have complained a number of times to county and manager over the years. We are also getting jets on occasion that come in in the middle of the night or very very early in the morning leaving – waking you straight up out of bed! and don’t forget we just had another plane from there crash near the Christmas tree farm on Graves avenue also. I think the FAA needs to take a real good look at this airport and correct their issues!

    • Z

      I live above you and over a bit on Estella; I’ve lived there for something like 20 years. I signed the same disclosure when I bought the house that you did.. You knew there was an airport and the Freeways surrounding your house. I’m so glad they got rid of the raceway, which was louder by far than the airport ever has been. If anything the number of operations at the airport are less. Sunday afternoons it seems deserted. No one on the ground was hurt. Two pilots are dead; they had families. I’m sure they don’t appreciate your unsubstantiated, and disingenuous comments. My heart goes out to those people and the Airport community. They have a nice little Café where my wife and I sometimes have lunch. On some Fridays they have music and good food and car clubs. Maybe you need to go talk to pilots and find out about your neighbors before you start casting stones. The airport adds value to my home and yours. You and people like you need to start realizing that fact.

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