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4 people killed in Learjet that crashed near El Cajon, FAA says

Residents wake up to debris left from a Learjet that crashed Monday night in El Cajon.
(Alejandro Tamayo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A small jet that crashed near El Cajon on Monday night was carrying four people when it flew out of John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday.

The Learjet 35 business jet crashed and caught fire on a residential road in the unincorporated neighborhood of Bostonia near Gillespie Field around 7:15 p.m., said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokesperson for the FAA. No survivors were found in the wreckage, and no injuries were reported on the ground.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

One house was damaged, and the plane knocked down power lines, cutting off power to more than 2,500 homes shortly after the crash, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said. A San Diego Gas & Electric Co. outage map showed more than 180 customers were still without power Tuesday morning.

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Officials said the American Red Cross would be assisting those affected by the outage.

A man in protective gear walks toward plane wreckage on a dark street.
First responders arrive Monday night after the plane crashed near Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
(OnScene.TV)

Jessica Paredes, who lives near the site of the crash, said she and her family were watching TV in the living room when they heard a loud, rumbling engine sound — so loud it sounded like it “was inside my eardrum” — and she knew a plane was about to crash.

“When I heard the plane, all that came to mind was, ‘We are going to die; we are not going to make it out,’” she said.

She said everything went black, and then flames engulfed the street.

“That’s all you saw was flames everywhere,” she said.

She and her fiancé got her 6-year-old son, who has physical disabilities, and 13-year-old daughter out of the house — but then she had to go back inside to find her car keys.

“It looked like the whole world was on fire at that point,” she said. And then they started hearing explosions.

By the time she got the car started, she had to drive through fire in order to get her family out.

“I’m terrified of fire,” she said. “My fiancé said, ‘You have to go; You have to gun it.’”

She said she was able to get some things out of her house Monday night. Her family stayed overnight with her mother, and she was looking for temporary lodging that would accommodate them and their dog. She wasn’t sure when the power would be back on and was unsure if her house had been damaged.

Video shot by OnScene.TV showed the smoldering wreckage in the middle of the road, with most of the aircraft destroyed. Parts from the jet, including its landing gear, were strewn across the street.

The 10-seat jet was registered to Med Jet of El Cajon, according to the FAA.

Monday’s crash was the second deadly plane crash in less than three months in the eastern part of San Diego County. On Oct. 11, a Cessna C340 crashed on a residential street in Santee, killing the pilot and a UPS driver whose truck was hit by the plane.

Sheriff’s officials said the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office would be identifying those killed in Monday’s crash.

According to the NTSB, which tracks all flight-related crashes in the country, more than 8,200 aircraft have crashed in California since July 1962.

Data show 170 occurred in the San Diego area, and 64 list Gillespie Field as a destination or departure airport.

More than 40 of the crashes related to Gillespie Field resulted in no injuries. NTSB data show 11 resulted in 19 fatalities, and nearly a dozen caused minor or serious injuries.


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