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Plane crashes into hillside in Oceanside, killing pilot, injuring passenger

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- A pilot and his passenger were found more than 10 hours after his small plane crashed on a hillside in Oceanside Tuesday, police said.

The pilot died and his passenger was badly injured when a private single-engine plane crashed near the top of a ridge  just west of Oceanside Municipal Airport, near state Route 76 near Canyon Drive, according to Oceanside Police Department spokesman Tom Bussey. The two men aboard the plane remained in the wreckage for hours before people found them. Their identities have not yet been released, but the single engine plane is registered to a resident in Vista.

A driver on the highway saw the wreckage of the plane around 7:15 a.m. and called authorities, Bussey said.

About a dozen firefighters were seen rescuing the passenger at 7:45 a.m. A helicopter took the injured person to a Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

The single-engine Piper PA-28 took off from Oceanside Airport at about 9 p.m. Monday and crashed into the hillside about a quarter of a mile south of the airport just after takeoff, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA officials will investigate the plane crash and determine what caused it.

Eastbound SR-76 was closed from Canyon Drive to Airport Road due to the possibility of the plane sliding down the hillside, Bussey said. At first, authorities said it would remain closed until the wreckage can be removed from the hillside, but they decided to reopen the roadway at around 1 p.m..

"It'll be a challenge removing the plane from the hillside," Bussey said. “Trying to stabilize the plane at this point so we don’t know if they’re going to get it off the top and drag it up there’s no roadways at the top so there’s a good chance they may have to airlift it off the side of the hill."

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