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3 killed in Big Bear small plane crash

Posted at 10:26 AM, May 02, 2023

BIG BEAR CITY, Calif. (AP) — A single-engine plane crashed near a California mountain airport on Monday, killing all three people aboard, authorities said.

The Beechcraft A36 went down at about 2 p.m. near Big Bear City Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane struck a vacant lot, and there was no fire, fire officials said.

The victims weren’t immediately identified.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. Weather reports said it was partly cloudy at the time of the crash.

Big Bear Airport is in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear Lake, a popular resort area about a two-hour drive east of Los Angeles.

It was the second deadly small plane crash in three days in Southern California. On Saturday, one person was killed when a single-engine plane slammed into a grassy hillside above homes in a Los Angeles neighborhood amid dense fog, authorities said.

The Cessna C172 crashed around 8:45 p.m. Saturday on the city’s west side, about 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Van Nuys Airport, the Los Angeles Fire Department and Federal Aviation Administration said.

Joubin Solemani was at home with his family in the upscale Beverly Crest area when they all heard a loud crash.

“We thought it might be a car crash. But we looked outside and didn’t see anything. We didn’t know what the heck it was,” Solemani said Sunday. “Then search-and-rescue showed up and were all over the hillside.”

After searching for several hours in darkness and “thick ground-level fog,” crews found the crash site and one person dead in the wreckage, the fire department said in a statement. The pilot was the plane’s lone occupant, the FAA said.

When the sun came up Sunday, Solemani said he could see the plane a few hundred feet (meters) above his property in the Santa Monica Mountains. “It’s totally mangled,” he told The Associated Press.

The pilot was not immediately identified. Fire department personnel recovered the body Sunday afternoon.

The plane avoided hitting power lines and a large water tank and, officials said, there was minimal fire.

An air traffic controller initially reported the plane as missing after losing radar contact with the aircraft while it was en route to Van Nuys Airport, the fire department said in an alert shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.