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Pilot killed in San Gabriel plane crash

November 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A small plane crashes into a San Gabriel neighborhood and bursts into flames. The pilot managed to avoid hitting anyone on the ground but he was killed in the crash.

Investigators spent Saturday night searching through the mangled wreckage looking for the pilot's remains and any clues to what went wrong.

Witnesses say they knew that the plane was in serious trouble.

"I was standing in front of my house," William Vazquez said. "I looked up and saw the airplane wobbling out of control. I heard a boom so I came over and it was on fire."

Vazquez captured the fiery crash on his cell phone.

Authorities confirmed that the pilot was the only fatality.

The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza came crashing to the ground just before 4:30 p.m. along Walnut Grove Ave. and Clanton St. in San Gabriel.

The crash was just feet from Julieta Gallardo as she was walking with her young granddaughter.

"When I saw the craft coming down and I saw that it was going to the ground," Gallardo said. "It exploded right away."

Investigators say that the pilot died on impact. The plane is registered to an owner in Oregon and had departed from Brackett Field in La Verne and was headed for Van Nuys.

Investigators say that it appears the pilot did everything he could to avoid putting others in danger.

"He put it down between the build, over a couple of cars in the parking lot and missed a railroad signal light," L.A. County Fire Capt. Curtis Hummel said. "He did a pretty good job of putting it someplace where people weren't going to get hurt. He should be proud."


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