A twin-engine Cessna C340 crashed Monday near the Santana High School campus in Santee, officials said, killing at least two individuals, a UPS employee, and demolishing two residences.
Officials claimed the jet was on its way to San Diego from Yuma, Arizona, when it encountered an issue and attempted to land at Gillespie Field, which is adjacent to the high school when it crashed on a local street at approximately anagram 12:15 p.m.
According to witnesses, the plane came down at the intersection of Greencastle and Jeremy Streets. The plane’s wing collided with the branch of a UPS truck approaching a stop sign, killing the driver. Witnesses say the fuselage then fell toward two residences and detonated,
Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita of the Santee Fire Department announced shortly before 2 p.m. during a news conference near the crash scene that at least two persons perished in the incident or the accompanying fire.
“It’s a fairly horrific scene for our people, and we’re sifting through it,” Matsushita said, adding that he was unsure whether there were any other fatalities. However, he did state that the crash’s debris field reached nearly a block to the southeast.
Along with the two destroyed homes, at least five more sustained damage.
Matsushita stated that two individuals were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. According to neighbors, they are a husband and woman rescued from a house on the corner impacted by the plane’s body. The woman was pulled from a burning building through a window, her hair sang, and her face scorched. Her spouse was rescued from the backyard by neighbors who dragged him through the fence to safety.
“We do not yet know the number of passengers on board,” Donnell Evans, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson, stated in an email to NBC 7. “The FAA will reveal the aircraft’s tail number once it has been verified at the crash scene by investigators. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the inquiry and will offer subsequent updates.”
Officials on the scene said they were unknown how many people were aboard the airplane but that anyone inside was likely killed in the accident and following fire. According to several sources, the Cessna C340 is a six-seat aircraft.
“We feel that the injuries sustained by anyone on that plane are irreversible,” Matsushita stated.
School administrators tweeted shortly before 12:30 p.m. that no kids had been wounded during the plane’s descent and that the campus had been secured. In addition, they stated that the campus had been restored to normalcy around a half-hour later and that students were either on a lunch break or being dismissed for the day if they did not have any other classes.
The crash near Gillespie is not the first in Santee; three years ago, an aircraft came down in Santee, killing two humans and a dog in February. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, four fatal plane crashes in East County, including one in 2018. The incidents resulted in the deaths of six persons.