Plane slams into car parked on shoulder of freeway; car passenger killed

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A small plane crashed into a car on Interstate 15 in northern San Diego County on Saturday, leaving one person dead and five injured, officials said.

The incident happened about 9:15 a.m. near state Route 76 south of Fallbrook. Two people were reportedly aboard the plane, and four were in the vehicle.

The airplane was initially described as a small jet by a witness, according to the California Highway Patrol's website. Traffic was jammed in the area, but the plane itself was mostly off the freeway, partially in some bushes.

California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Parent said the driver was stopped on the shoulder trying to sync his Bluetooth with his vehicle when the car was struck by the plane from behind. A passenger seated in the right rear of the car, a woman in her 20s, was killed, said North County Fire Protection District spokesman John Buchanan. Three others in the car — two men and a woman — were taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to extricate one of the car's occupants.

The pilot suffered life-threatening injuries. It was not known the extent of injuries to the plane's passenger.

At a news conference, a CHP spokesman said the FAA was investigating the cause of the crash. Witnesses told investigators that the plane appeared to have mechanical problems.

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Motorist John Marshall told KGTV-TV in San Diego that when he saw what had happened, he got out of his car to help. Seeing the pilot trapped inside the plane, Marshall told the TV station he got a hammer from his car and broke open the plane's door.

Another witness, Jacob Duncan, described to KNSD-TV how the plane came to land on the vehicle. “The plane touched down about 40 feet behind my car, and it slid about another 40 feet,” he told the station. “One car was stopped on the shoulder. It slammed right into the back of them.”

Jones writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Times staff writer Shelby Grad contributed to this report


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1 p.m.: This article was updated with more details about the incident and the victims.

11:26 a.m.: This article was updated with details from a news conference.

11 a.m.: This article was updated with eyewitness accounts.

This article was originally published at 10:42 a.m.