Pilot, UPS driver identified as victims after plane crashes in California neighborhood

SANTEE, Calif. — A small plane crashed Monday afternoon near a high school in Santee, California, killing two people, injuring two others and prompting blazes that engulfed at least two homes, authorities said.

Officials with Santana High School confirmed that no students were injured in the crash.

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Update 8:56 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: The two men confirmed dead in the plane crash have been identified as the doctor piloting the twin-engine Cessna C340 and a UPS driver who was on the ground when the aircraft made impact, KNSD-TV reported.

The chief medical officer of the Yuma Regional Medical Center confirmed to the TV station early Monday evening that the plane’s pilot had been a colleague.

“We are deeply sad to hear news of a plane owned by local cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das which crashed near Santee,” Dr. Bharat Magu said in a prepared statement. “As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man, Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend our prayers and support to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time.”

A family friend told KNSD-TV that Das worked at the YRMC but lived in San Diego, flying back and forth frequently.

Meanwhile, witnesses told the TV station that the wing of the aircraft clipped a UPS truck, and a UPS official later confirmed that one of their drivers had died at the crash scene.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the delivery company wrote in a prepared statement. “We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.”

Fire officials also confirmed that at least five homes were damaged in addition to the two that witnesses said were destroyed after the crashed plane’s fuselage slammed into them and  exploded, KNSD-TV reported.

Santee Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita also confirmed that a husband and wife were taken to area hospitals for treatment after the plane’s body struck their home. The woman was rescued through a window, while the man was pulled through the backyard fence to safety by neighbors, the TV station reported.

Update 2:18 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: A deputy chief with the Santee Fire Department confirmed during a news conference that at least two people died in the plane crash or ensuing fire, KNBC reported.

“It’s a pretty brutal scene for our guys. and we’re trying to comb through it,” the deputy chief stated.

Update 2:10 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: Lili Patch, a woman who lives in Santee, told KNSD-TV that she and her husband not only heard the plane crash but that their home-security system captured video of the impact.

“You can see (the plane) come down, and it just, full-force, crashed,” Patch told the TV station. “It didn’t spin, nothing. You just heard it, and it came down.”

Update 2:04 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: The plane has been identified by officials as a twin-engine Cessna C340, KNSD-TV reported.

“We do not yet know how many people were on board,” Donnell Evans, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email sent to the TV station. “The FAA will release the tail number of the aircraft after investigators verify it at the accident site.”

According to the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation and “will provide additional updates.”

Update 1:43 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: An official with Air Traffic Control told KNSD-TV that the plane was en route to Yuma, Arizona, from Montgomery Field in San Diego, when an emergency landing was attempted at Gillespie Field because of an unspecified issue.

The school, which is part of the Grossmont Union High School District, is just north of the airport at Gillespie Field, KNBC reported.

Update 1:35 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: Santee Fire Chief John Garlow confirmed to The Associated Press that a box truck, possibly a package-delivery vehicle, also burned.

Update 1:15 p.m. PDT Oct. 11: Officials with the Santee Fire Department told KSWB-TV that at least two people were injured in the crash.

Fire Chief John Garlow told The Associated Press that the two suffered burn injuries. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known and it was not clear if they were in the plane or on the ground at the time of the crash.

Garlow said that one home was “well involved” by flames and a second also caught fire after the incident, according to the AP. He added that a box truck was also burned.

Initial reports indicate that the crashed plane was a twin-engine aircraft, although few other details were immediately available, the AP reported.

Original report: In a Twitter post around 12:35 p.m. PDT, officials with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said deputies were among several first responders at the scene of the plane crash on the 9900 block of N. Magnolia Avenue.

“This is a developing situation,” deputies said. “We appreciate your patience and cooperation.”

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured in the crash, which sparked a fire that appeared to have destroyed at least one building, KNSD reported.

The incident happened blocks away from Santana High School, according to school officials. Students have since been released for lunch or dismissal, officials said.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed heavy smoke rising from the area of the crash.

Check back for updates to this developing story.