The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a preliminary report next week regarding Tuesday's airplane crash, officials said.
However, the report will consist of information detailing what happened and, most likely, will fail to state the probable cause of the accident, which left its pilot and passenger in serious condition. The cause will be determined and released in a final report that could take up to six months to complete.
The pilot, Peter Fennell, 30, a California Highway Patrol officer from Orange, underwent a 12-hour surgery for severe lacerations to his right ankle and two broken ankles, said Lorraine Neher, a UCI Medical Center spokeswoman. She said Fennell was recovering from the surgery Wednesday and was listed in stable but serious condition.
The passenger, Jeffrey Scott Brown, 27, of Mira Loma, was treated for a head injury at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Anaheim Hills and released Wednesday, Kaiser officials said.
Fennell had radioed the Fullerton tower Tuesday afternoon, saying he was experiencing trouble and requested permission to land the Piper Comanche aircraft just moments before he crashed into a telephone pole at the intersection of Malvern Avenue and Gilbert Street, city officials said.
Witnesses said they heard the small plane sputter shortly before it crashed, and the lack of gasoline near the crash site caused speculation that it might have run out of gas.
Roland Elder, director of the airport where the crashed aircraft is being stored, said he did not want to speculate on the cause of the accident. "I don't know what the cause is," he said.
Elder said he may recommend that the City Council commend the crash onlookers who helped the victims out of the aircraft. Police said two of the helpers were Al Pregler, a Fullerton pilot, and Samuel Aguilar, a Whittier resident who works at Hughes Aircraft Co.