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Video shows plane fall from sky, explode in residential area near San Diego

NBC News logo NBC News 3 days ago Elisha Fieldstadt

New video shows the moment a twin-engine Cessna fell from the sky and burst into flames in a residential neighborhood near San Diego, killing at least two people and destroying homes.

The 13-second video, taken from a balcony Monday afternoon, shows the plane nosedive, hit the ground and explode.

A plane crashed in Santee, Calif., on Oct. 11, 2021. (KNSD) © via NBC News A plane crashed in Santee, Calif., on Oct. 11, 2021. (KNSD)

Witnesses told NBC San Diego that the Cessna 340 slid down Greencastle Street in Santee before its wing clipped a UPS truck. Then, the plane's fuselage dislodged and barreled toward homes.

The driver of the UPS truck was killed. The company identified him as Steve Krueger.

"Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his work, and his positive attitude and joyful laugh made the hardest days a little lighter," UPS said in a statement shared with NBC News. "Steve was held in high regard and will be greatly missed."

The pilot and owner of the plane, Dr. Sugata Das, a cardiologist from Arizona, also died.

A family friend told NBC San Diego that Das worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center but lived in San Diego, and flew back and forth often.

"As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man, Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy," the hospital said in a statement.

Santee Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita said that two homes were decimated in the crash and multiple vehicles caught fire. The debris field stretched more than a block, he said, and power was cut to 10 homes while first responders combed through the wreckage.

Two people were injured and taken to local hospitals, he said.

It was unclear if anyone else was on the plane, but Matsushita said "that the injuries are nonsurvivable for anyone that was on that plane." The Cessna C340 is a six-seater plane.

"Not to be too graphic, but it's a pretty brutal scene for our guys and we're trying to comb through it," he said.

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An air traffic controller had warned Das that the plane was too low, according to audio obtained by NBC San Diego.

“Low altitude alert, climb immediately, climb the airplane,” the controller said.

The controller tries repeatedly to instruct Das to climb to 5,000 feet. "You appear to be descending again, sir," the controller can then be heard saying.

The plane was supposed to land at the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego, according to the flight plan. It crashed a few miles from the Gillespie Field airport.

At least two other people were injured and taken to hospitals, Matsushita said. And in addition to the two destroyed homes, at least five more were damaged.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash, and was expected to be on scene Tuesday.

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