A small private plane crash landed in a San Diego parking lot Wednesday afternoon, clipping a building and knocking down a light pole before bursting into flames.
An 80-year-old female passenger died after suffering severe burns, according to the Associated Press. The single-engine 1988 Mooney M-20L was piloted by an unidentified 52-year-old woman who suffered injuries but is expected to recover.
Witnesses told reporters that people ran to the wreckage, some with fire extinguishers to help the two passengers.
One witness told Fox5 San Diego that the two women were conscious at the crash site, but were “pretty beat up.”
Both were transported to a Sharp Memorial Hospital, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson quoted by KTLA, where the 80-year-old succumbed to her injuries.
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“The front of the passenger compartment, the engine is essentially broken off,” Swanson said, according to the AP. “The landing gear is off, it’s lying flat on its belly. There’s some debris for several yards in each direction.”
Authorities credited the pilot with bringing the plane down in an area with few cars or people — the loading dock area of a parking lot serving a Costco and Target, according to the AP.
Wednesday’s crash is just the latest fatal accident involving a small plane in recent days. On Sunday, a small plane made an emergency landing on a Florida beach, killing a 9-year-old girl and her father.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigates more than 1,500 small-plane and private-jet accidents every year. And while U.S. commercial flights reported no fatalities due to accidents for two years running, the NTSB says that “general aviation,” which include small-plane and private-jet flights, has the highest accident rate within civil aviation.