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One dead as small plane crashes in street near Van Nuys Airport

One dead as small plane crashes near Van Nuys Airport

A 40-year-old man was killed Friday afternoon when a small plane crashed in a busy commercial intersection near Van Nuys Airport and a local hospital, fire officials said.

The single-engine Lancair crashed about 1:14 p.m. under unknown circumstances at Vanowen Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor and fire officials.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said the pilot was the only person on board and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A Van Nuys Airport official said the plane took off about a minute before it crashed. The plane was registered in Scottsdale, Ariz.

LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery advised residents to avoid the area because of an ongoing investigation, which will continue throughout the evening.

The crash, he said, could have been worse.

Witnesses said it was stunning that the plane crashed in a bustling street without clipping any buildings and hitting any cars or pedestrians. One witness said the plane was apparently spiraling before it crashed. 

"I heard this huge boom -- a really loud boom," said Sharon Mashal, 22, who works in the area.

Mashal said she was walking back from lunch when the plane crashed.

"The whole cockpit was crushed," she said. "There was nothing there."

Michael Flores said people were screaming as the plane dove toward the street.

“When it landed, every piece just came apart,” he said.

The LAPD, FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which was also near Providence Tarzana Medical Center and the Van Nuys Golf Course.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA and @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


3:50 p.m.: This post has been updated to include the age of the victim and comment from an LAPD sergeant.

2:29 p.m.: This post has been updated with information about the registration of the airplane that crashed and interviews with two eyewitnesses.