FALLBROOK, Calif. -- A small plane crashed into a car parked on the shoulder of Interstate 15 in the Pala Mesa area of North County this morning, killing a woman and sending five others to local hospitals, authorities said.
The North County Fire Protection District transported five patients, three to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and two to Sharp Memorial in Kearny Mesa. Antoinette Frances Isbelle, 38, of San Diego County, was a passenger in the right rear seat of the car and was pronounced dead at the scene, spokesman John Buchanan said.
The four occupants of the car were local roller derby athletes on their way to a match in San Fernando Valley. Isbelle was a member of San Diego Roller Derby.
The pilot of the Lancair IV, single-engine low-wing plane was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries described as severe trauma to his head.
He was identified by a CHP spokesman as Dennis Hogge, 62, of Jamul. His 50-year-old female passenger was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries and underwent surgery this afternoon.
A motorist called the California Highway Patrol at 9:15 a.m. and reported witnessing a plane landing on northbound I-15, just south of State Route 76, the CHP reported.
The Nissan 4-door sedan was parked on the shoulder of the freeway so the driver could sync his Bluetooth with the car, Buchanan said. The plane skidded along the slow lane of the freeway for about 250 feet before crashing into the rear of the car, crushing Isbelle in the back seat.
It took firefighters about 25 minutes to extricate the 45-year-old woman who was riding in the front passenger seat of the car. The 42-year-old male driver and 36-year-old male passenger in the left rear seat did not require extrication, according to Buchanan.
Firefighters were able to contain a fuel leak before it caught fire since they arrived on scene from their station located less than a mile from the crash, Buchanan said.
“It's amazing that there weren't more injuries,'' he said.
Federal Aviation Administration officials told first responders not to move the plane until they arrived to begin their investigation. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, according to Ian Gregor, public affairs manager of the FAA's Pacific Division.
A large number of people witnessed the crash, Buchanan said. Many of them reported not hearing anything that would indicate engine trouble, but said the way the plane was banking to the east, then to the west before hitting the ground indicated it was in some kind of trouble.
The Lancair IV is a homebuilt propjet aircraft with retracting landing gear that seats four including the pilot, and ceased production in 2012. It appeared from the crash scene that the landing gear had not been deployed, according to an official. FAA records indicate the aircraft was categorized as experimental and was amateur built and that its FAA registry had expired.
Three lanes on the northbound side of the freeway remained open, but the CHP issued a SigAlert for the area, warning motorists to stay away as traffic problems were expected to last for hours. Traffic on I-15 was backed up for miles in both directions and surface streets in the area were also clogged.
The slow lane was expected to remain closed until investigators could remove the plane and car wreckage, according to CHP spokesman Chris Parent. The NTSB had arrived on scene by late afternoon and was in the process of removing the plane, Parent said.
All lanes were expected to be re-opened by early evening.