Authorities said the single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer was attempting to land on a surface street in Newport Beach, but it landed in the water at about 5:45 p.m., killing the plane's owner, 58-year-old Charles Chambers of Palos Verdes Estates, and his two passengers, 63-year-old Russell Urban of Rancho Palos Verdes and 44-year-old Sean Kelly of Hermosa Beach.
The pilot radioed the tower at /*John Wayne Airport*/, telling officials they needed to make an emergency landing. Police started to clear Newport Center Drive, but the plane went down in the Back Bay.
A firefighter said he saw the plane in distress before it went down.
"He witnessed the aircraft, he told me it was about 50 feet off the ground," said /*Newport Beach Fire Department*/ Division Chief Paul Matheis. "He said it clearly was in trouble."
Rescue crews arrived on scene to find the plane upside down. They waded through the knee-deep water and pulled the victims from the wreckage of the plane.
The /*National Transportation Safety Board*/ is investigating the accident. It will likely be several weeks before a preliminary cause is determined.
According to his website, Chambers was a longtime real estate agent based in the South Bay. He leaves behind a wife and daughter.