Neighbors still stunned after small jet crashes in East County neighborhood

Local

EL CAJON, Calif. – Tracey Baker and her husband live just yards from the site where a small jet crashed Monday night in an East County neighborhood, killing four people aboard and leaving a fiery trail of destruction.

A day later, Baker, like others in the area, is still stunned by what happened.

“I heard a loud pop,” she said. “The lights flickered for about 30 seconds and then we heard a boom and I ran outside and looked behind me and saw a bunch of flames.”

The Learjet 35A crashed about 7:15 p.m. Monday in the unincorporated Bostonia area of El Cajon. While details about the crash are still being investigated, the National Transportation Safety Board said in an initial report Tuesday said that the aircraft departed John Wayne Airport with its intended destination being Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

It went down in a residential area about a mile and a half from the approach end of the runway at Gillespie, the NTSB said in its report.

No one was hurt on the ground, but firefighters “were not able to find any survivors” from the plane, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office said it’s working to identify the deceased before notifying the victims’ families.

“We will have no additional information to release until after the families have been notified,” the office said.

In the wake of the tragic crash, Baker said it appeared the neighborhood “pulled together” and “did what they could to make sure everybody was OK.”

But even with gratitude that their neighbors are safe, their hearts break for the victims and their families.

“Just pray for the families of the people that lost their lives in the crash,” Baker said.

NTSB investigators are expected to be at the crash site for about three days. A preliminary report is typically put out within a few weeks, but a full investigation won’t be done for 12-24 months.

As of Tuesday evening, about 200 SDG&E customers were still without power. The power is estimated to be restored by Wednesday at 3 p.m., but it has been pushed back several times already. Crews could be seen hard at work, even in the rain, trying to restore power lines in the area of the crash.

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