UPDATED 5:12 PM PT – Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Authorities have been investigating a small plane crash in Southern California that killed at least two people. An agent from the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the crash site as well as reviewed air traffic communications on Tuesday.
According to witnesses on Monday, the plane descended quickly and clipped a UPS truck that was coming to a stop. The driver of the truck was killed and an explosion sparked multiple fires, in turn, destroying two homes and damaging several others.
The plane, which was coming from Yuma, Arizona, was owned and piloted by local cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das. He reportedly lived in San Diego, but often flew back and forth between his work and home.
It has remained unclear how many passengers were on the six seater plane, but authorities said it was unlikely anyone inside survived.
“It’s a pretty brutal scene for our guys, and we’re trying to comb through it. So we just give us a little bit of time and we’ll try and determine to the extent as far as how many, how many injuries and fatalities.”
— Deputy Chief Justin Matsushita, Santee Fire Department
10/11 5:30pm UPDATE: Mayor John Minto responds to Cessna plane crash. pic.twitter.com/eQdTqZjXfm
— City of Santee (@CityofSantee) October 12, 2021
Two other people were transported to the hospital and several suffered minor injuries and burns. The mayor released a statement, while promising the city would provide assistance to those affected by the tragedy.
“On behalf of our city council, we want you to know we are extending whatever support we can for those who were injured, lost homes or suffered property damage in this incident.”
– -Mayor John Minto, Santee California
Audio from live Air Traffic Control revealed the controller had told the pilot he was flying too low just before the crash.
Air Traffic Controller:
“You’re descending sir, I need to make sure you are climbing not descending.22 gulf climbing.”
“22 Gulf stay altitude”
“At 2500 22 Gulf”
“Okay 22 Gulf, low altitude alert. Climb immediately. Climb the airplane, maintain 5,000, expedite the climb.”
Nevertheless, crash investigators plan to look at the incident from every possible angle, whether the craft ran out of fuel or had a mechanical malfunctions or whether Das suffered a medical emergency, to determine what led to the fatal descent.