UPDATE: Passenger killed in Fallbrook small plane crash identified

FALLBROOK, Calif. – One person is dead and another was injured after a small plane crashed near a county airport in Fallbrook Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

Officials with the North County Fire Protection District, the San Diego County Sheriff Department, the FAA, and NTSB are investigating the crash, which took place at Altman Plant Nursery in the 2500 block of Olive Hill Road, just outside of Fallbrook Airpark. The FAA and NTSB will be the lead on the case with the sheriff’s department on security.

Police arrest man suspected in 2019 homicide

“We had a total of two patients. We are sadden to report one patient was dead on scene and another was transported to a trauma center in critical condition,” North County Fire Protection District officials said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

“Just to know another aviator had crashed, it hits the flying community,” said Michael Ehrengruber, a longtime pilot.   

Ehrengruber has been a pilot for 30 years, flying out of Fallbrook Airpark for 15 years. When he heard of the crash he got concerned it was a friend and showed up. He said it was not a friend of his, but said the crash is the unfortunate risk of flying.

“Anything can happen, it’s just one of those things. It’s sad but we as pilots accept it,” Ehrengruber said.

It’s unknown at this time where the plane was headed before it crashed.

“We have no witnesses as to whether they were taking off or landing but the airport … believed they were trying to take off,” said Jason Scroggins, a sergeant with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Fallbrook Division.

Officials said Fallbrook Airpark does not have an air tower, and officials said they did not receive any “alert status.” According to FAA registry, the plane is a 1953 T-28 owned by Mach One Air Charters in Chino. The N-number of the plane is N787AS.

The plane is a post-World War II style training airplane, that was used for decades to train for the Navy and Marine Corps.

James Kidrick, the president and CEP of the Air and Space Museum at Balboa Park, said: “This airplane then was a little more sophisticated than the first airplane a young aviator would’ve flown. But you are going to fly formation, and ultimately you’re going to land this airplane on an aircraft carrier. So it’s a very very capable airplane.”

The details are limited for now but it’s still an impact to the aviation community. “As a fire department it hits us hard to see people in their most tragic moments. Our hearts go out to the family members impacted by this,” said John Choi, North County Fire Protection District Public Information Officer.

“The pilot survived I’m just praying for him and his family,” Ehrengruber said.