New video shows the moment a twin-engine Cessna fell from the sky and caught fire in a residential neighborhood near San Diego, killing at least two people and destroying homes.
The 13-second video, taken from a balcony Monday afternoon, shows the plane nose down, struck the ground and exploded.
Witnesses told NBC San Diego that the Cessna 340 slipped down Greencastle Street in Santee before its wing cut off a UPS truck. Then, the plane’s fuselage dislodged and raced towards the houses.
The driver of the UPS truck was killed. The company identified him as Steve Krueger.
“Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his job, and his positive attitude and cheerful laughter made the tough days a little lighter,” UPS said in a statement shared with NBC News. “Steve was held in high regard and will be sorely missed.”
The pilot and owner of the aircraft, Dr. Sugata Das, an Arizona cardiologist, also died.
A family friend told NBC San Diego that Das worked at the Yuma Regional Medical Center but lived in San Diego and often traveled there and back.
“As an exceptional cardiologist and dedicated family man, Dr Das is leaving a lasting legacy,” the hospital said in a statement.
Santee Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita said two homes were decimated in the crash and several vehicles caught fire. The debris field stretched for more than a block, he said, and electricity was cut in 10 homes as first responders raked the wreckage.
Two people were injured and taken to local hospitals, he said.
It was not clear if anyone else was on the plane, but Matsushita said “injuries cannot survive for anyone on that plane.” The Cessna C340 is a six-seater aircraft.
“Not to be too graphic, but it’s a pretty brutal scene for our guys and we’re trying to comb through it,” he said.
An air traffic controller had warned Das that the plane was too low, according to audio obtained by NBC San Diego.
“Low altitude alert, get on immediately, get on the plane,” said the controller.
The controller tried several times to order Das to climb to 5,000 feet. “You seem to come back down, sir,” the controller can be heard then.
The plane was supposed to land at the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego, according to the flight plan. It crashed a few miles from Gillespie Field Airport.
At least two other people were injured and taken to hospital, Matsushita said. And in addition to the two houses destroyed, at least five others were damaged.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident and was scheduled to be at the scene Tuesday.