Four people were killed Sunday when two small, private airplanes collided midair near a San Diego airport. Authorities said the crash also sparked brush fires in a field where the wreckage appeared, Associated Press reports.
According to Federal Aviation Association spokesman Ian Gregor, the twin engine Sabreliner and the single-engine Cessna 17 were headed to the airport when they collided at 11 a.m. roughly two miles northeast of the Brown Field Municipal Airport runway. Gregor said that both planes were planning on landing at Brown Field. The crash took place a residential area in Otay Mesa near the Mexican border.
Nick Schuler, division chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that the wreckage from the crash was discovered in two locations that were nearly a quarter mile apart. The planes split into “multiple pieces,” Schuler said. A California Highway Patrol officer, who arrived on the scene first, said reported that “debris is scattered everywhere.”
The cause of the collision is still unknown. New York Times reported that there were no survivors and that the names of the deceased have not been released. Investigators are looking at the wreckage to see if additional people were aboard either plane, LA Times reports.
Authorities from Cal Fire, the San Diego Fire & Rescue Department and the Chula Vista Fire Department responded and extinguished several brush fires at the scene. No one was injured on the ground, but a firefighter was transported to the hospital with heat-related injuries, Schuler said.
Schuler said that the number of casualties could have been much higher had the planes landed elsewhere. “Had they landed to the west, they could have landed right on the airport or on the freeway, and if they had landed to the east they could have landed on a prison, Schuler said.