SAN DIEGO — The pilot of a small plane that crashed near homes in La Jolla overnight has been confirmed dead.
Around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the FAA received a message from the pilot saying he was low on fuel, said the San Diego Police Department.
The pilot, who was flying in rainy weather conditions, was then diverted to Montgomery Field.
The pilot lost track of his location and went off radar soon after, SDPD explained. Authorities began their search for a downed aircraft in the area of the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Police confirmed Thursday morning that the plane was located along Caminito Sueno near Gilman Drive in La Jolla Heights. The plane came in through some trees.
A resident in the area reported seeing lights from the plane and directed authorities to the area, SDPD told FOX 5. The department’s drone team located the plane soon after.
Authorities with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the single-engine Cessna P210 aircraft took off from Concord, Calif. The destination of the aircraft is not known at this time.
The pilot, whose identity has not been released, was reported to be the sole occupant of the plane.
In a press conference around 4 p.m., NTSB spokesperson Paul Basti said that the field investigation with the FAA is still in the early stages of gathering evidence. A preliminary report will be released within 14 days while a final report will come within 18 months, Basti added.
Audio from air traffic control obtained by FOX 5 reveals that the pilot was likely flying too low, in addition to being low on fuel. Foggy and rainy weather could have also played a factor.
“The rain doesn’t really decrease your visibility all that much,” pilot and former aircraft accident investigator, Rich Martindell, told FOX 5. “What does decrease your visibility is clouds.”
A team worked for several hours to recover the aircraft Thursday night. Basti said that crews will then take it to a secure location where investigators will examine it further.
Investigators will be looking to answer questions about three aspects of the crash: the pilot, the plane and the environment.
“The machine will look at the maintenance records as well as the conditions of the aircraft prior to that for any records that exist and the environmental conditions,” he explained. “Of course, we’re going to be looking at weather reports and any other factual information we can gather.”
FOX 5’s Elizabeth Alvarez, Jason Sloss and Kasia Gregorcyzk contributed to this report.