Investigators leave, residents return home in wake of Santee plane crash

Local

SANTEE, Calif. — Two days after a small plane crashed into a Santee neighborhood, federal investigators cleared out and residents returned home Wednesday, still reeling from the chaos that touched down on their block.

Mike Bowen says he is still reliving it. He lives across the intersection of Jeremy and Greencastle streets, where the Cessna C340 crashed.

“It all is happening so fast, you don’t have time to stop and process it,” Bowen told FOX 5. “Before I could even form a thought of what was going on, that’s when the explosion happened and the big fireball went up.”

Neighbor Kelly Jacobson was home with her two young children. “It got louder and louder and then it was like a bomb exploded,” she said.

Her 6-year-old son had just come inside from the backyard. The impact of the plane and ensuing explosion blew out her windows. “There was glass everywhere and outside, and then I just saw a huge mushroom plume of smoky, black fire,” Jacobson recalled. 

Moments later, Bowen and a dozen other residents rushed into the fire, helping rescue Maria and Phil Morris, whose home was burnt to the ground. The dramatic rescue was caught on video.

Bowen was devastated that Steve Krueger, his friend and the neighborhood’s familiar UPS driver, could not be saved. His truck was flattened in the crash.

The street was back open to residents Wednesday and power was restored. NTSB has completed its investigation on the ground and moved the wreckage of the plane to Arizona, where work will continue for another 2 weeks determining the cause of the crash and other information.

Bowen was grateful for the way his community rallied for the families affected by the crash, including Krueger, the Morrises and the Campbells — newlyweds who also lost their home, which they’d only moved into months before.

“Personally I wanted to thank everybody. As a neighbor and a resident, it gives you a good feeling knowing that there’s that many people around here that will have your back,” he said.

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