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."