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Plane crashes in San Diego parking lot; 1 dead

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A small plane crashed in a San Diego shopping center parking lot Wednesday, killing one woman on board and seriously injuring another, a fire spokesman said.

The single-engine 1988 Mooney M-20L went down around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in a parking lot that serves a Costco and a Target store in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood.

The plane had bounced while landing at nearby Montgomerey Field, continued westbound and went down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane clipped the top of the Target store and knocked down a light pole, police Lt. Steve Behrendt said.

It spun around and finally landed in the parking lot in a loading dock area away from the main entrances, and no cars were there, city fire spokesman Lee Swanson said.

The plane caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused. He says the pilot, a 52-year-old woman, and her 80-year-old passenger were taken to hospitals with major injuries.

A man who tried to help after the crash was treated for minor cuts and burns.

Behrendt says one woman had serious burns and died at the hospital, but it's not immediately clear whether it was the pilot or passenger.

Gregg Smith was working in a nearby office building and saw the plane in trouble. It nearly hit his building, he said.

"I knew they didn't have enough power to do the things they needed to do," he told KNSD-TV. "I knew it was going down."

Smith said the plane left his view at that point, but he heard a loud thud and then the crash.

"The next thing I saw was a bunch of black smoke," he said.

Smith said he ran outside as he called 911.

He said 15 to 20 people were standing around the plane, some with fire extinguishers, and they managed to get the fire out before it reached the plane's fuel tank.

Television news reports showed the white plane appeared to be mostly intact, but its nose and one wing were torn up.

"The front of the passenger compartment, the engine is essentially broken off," Swanson said. "The landing gear is off, it's lying flat on its belly. There's some debris for several yards in each direction."

The cause of the crash was under investigation, but helicopter pilot Vince Carter told KFMB-TV that he was in the air when the pilot took off from Montgomery Field, a small public airport 6 miles north of downtown San Diego, and ran into trouble.

"She'd just lifted off and she made one (radio) transmission that she was having an issue," he said. "Then she said she lost power and she was going down and that was it."

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Randyroseta July 31 2014 at 1:08 AM

No disrespect but lets give the pilot credit for landing in a vacant parking lot reducing the casualties to just one. This could have been a lot more tragic.

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komivesdd July 30 2014 at 11:24 PM

And now they want to license drones to fly all over populated areas. How many drones will be the cause of small plane crashes? Small planes crash enough on their own without hitting some errant off course drone.

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David July 31 2014 at 12:26 AM

The two must dangerous points of any flight are the take-off and the landing. A loss of power at any point during a flight is a serious matter. In the case of a single engined aircraft at take-off, it will result result in a rough "dead-stick" landing at the very least, if there is plenty open space. Without adeqate altitude or airspeed the pilot has little time or space in which to manuever the aircraft safely back to the ground. Managing to put her plane down in an empty parking lot, instead of crashing into a nearby populated building, makes this woman as much of a hero as Mr. Sullenberger. This crash comes in a rash of recent accidents/incidents and points out the need for airports to be located outside of urban areas as they once were, before urban sprawl swollowed them up. A mile or two of open field off the end of the run-way would have allowed the pilot to immediatly set the plane back down safely.

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4 replies
camarillofats July 30 2014 at 11:27 PM

There are any number of things which could have caused this accident. It will be interesting to see how many, "aviation experts" chime in with wild speculation.

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tamsen86 July 31 2014 at 6:33 AM

Women drivers--seriously.

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1 reply
dee.pensa tamsen86 July 31 2014 at 10:16 PM


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dsujet July 31 2014 at 11:26 AM

Bought too much stuff at Costco. lol

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R July 31 2014 at 1:13 AM

What is it with these small planes?!

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4 replies
YO REF July 31 2014 at 12:27 AM

when is the gov going to put more restrictions on these small personally owned planes.. people dont't maintain them correctly because they cheapskate and shortcut the maintenance.

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6 replies
d1anaw July 31 2014 at 12:10 AM

Not again. When I was still living in that area, there were a number of incidents that occured around Montgomery field. It's been many years since the last incident until now.

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ccoblers July 31 2014 at 12:12 AM

Achieving a license to fly a plane should be much more stringent. People w/money think they are so cool b/c they "own" a plane & want to impress people. That's why this happens, they dont know what the hell they are doing......

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5 replies
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