At least two people died in a Santee plane crash, a small residential neighborhood 20 miles northeast of San Diego. It’s unclear how many people were onboard, but authorities confirmed that another two injured were sent to hospital.
The crash happened around noon PST in California. Videos of the site showed large, black plumes of smoke rising out of the remnants of the plane. Residents nearby were warned by authorities to stay away until it was clear. Gillespie Field, a small San Diego airport where the aircraft was likely headed, is just a few miles north of the Santee plane crash.
“We believe that the injuries are non-survivable for anyone that was on that plane,” said Justin Matsushita, a member of Santee’s fire department. He told CBS News that “we have at least two [injured] that were transported to local hospitals,” but that he couldn’t speak to the “extent of their injuries right now.”
“We do have at least two confirmed fatalities,” Matsushita revealed, though neither of the victims names have been identified. “Not to be too graphic but it’s a pretty brutal scene.”
Santana High School, which is a few blocks away from the Santee plane crash, was reported as “secure” by authorities. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be leading an investigation into what happened to cause the crash.
“Plane crash in Santee a few minutes ago,’ wrote Ryan Graves, a Twitter user who shared footage of the smoke coming out of the crash. “Heard the plane and what felt like an earthquake. Heard a steady stream of sirens.”
Local new station KTLA 5 reported that the Santee plane crash landed and killed a UPS driver as well, whose name has also not been revealed.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” UPS released in a statement, concealing the employee’s identity. “We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.”
Witnesses on the scene described homes as completely destroyed, an elderly couple that was being rescued, and at least three other homes with significant damage. The neighborhood of Santee reportedly has a population of 50,000. Luckily, one of the homes that were destroyed was empty, as it had just been sold a month prior.
Speaking with NBC News 7, resident Jim Slaff told reporters that neighbors had to help his mother down out of a window from their burning house. His stepfather was in the backyard, where their dog died. “I think they were lucky they were in the back of the house when it happened because it came in the front,” he said.
Calling their injuries, “more bumps and bruises” than anything life-threatening, he said that neighbors “broke down the fence” to help rescue his stepdad. He also named a “Michael” who was strong enough to help his mother out of the window.
He said that they were “obviously shaken up but doing OK,” and that he was racing home. They’ve since been taken to UC San Diego Medical Center for treatment. “It’s a war zone. It’s not even a house,” he said.
Andrew Pelloth, 30, told reporters that he was working from home when he heard the Santee plane crash. “My initial thought was that it was a meteorite coming down,” he said. “I could hear it falling and then some kind of explosion.”
Power to the neighborhood has also been completely wiped out, according to ABC News. At the nearby YMCA, American Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter for anyone whose homes were destroyed in the wreck.