NTSB: Wreckage of plane that crashed in Costco parking lot is headed for Phoenix, Arizona

Woman killed in crash identified

SAN DIEGO - The wreckage of a small plane that crashed in a Costco parking lot on Wednesday will be sent to a salvage yard in Phoenix, where the National Transportation Safety Board will examine it carefully.

The plane's pieces were being loaded onto a truck Thursday afternoon, while an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board spoke at a news conference to give an update on where they will go from here.

A basic preliminary report will likely be posted at ntsb.gov within a week or two. However, NTSB investigators typically take months to come up with a probable cause, officials said.

Investigators reconstructed part of the sequence, starting with an aborted landing at Montgomery Field after a return flight from Riverside Wednesday afternoon.

The plane, a Mooney M20L, went down while attempting to land. The plane clipped a department store and then crashed into an adjacent parking lot that serves a Costco store.

Thomas Little, Air Safety Investigator for the NTSB of the Greater Seattle Area, said, "The airplane, when attempting to land, bounced and I don't have the number of bounces but then attempted a go-around to the west."

"We'll be looking to see if there are any ground marks, sometimes when you have a bounce, and I'm not saying it happened in this case but you could have a propeller strike, depending on the severity of propeller damage, you could have a loss of power. We still have that to look at," Little added.

Little said the initial point of impact may have played a role in the pilot's survival, adding, "You look at the right wing; that's been destroyed, basically. It's not even usable; that took the brunt of the energy on the impact."

Two women were in the plane and although both initially survived the crash, one of them -- the passenger -- later died of her injuries.

The Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 78-year-old Joy Gorian, a San Diego resident.

The pilot is recovering and the NTSB is waiting to talk to her.

"She is cognizant and aware of her surroundings," said Little.

According a spokesman with the FAA Pacific Division, the pilot had no record of problems or crashes prior to this week's crash.

10News learned the plane is registered to William Logan. One of his relatives told 10News his wife and her mother were on the plane.

Several pilots went to the crash scene, including Shawn McMillan.

"Part of my reason to want to check it out is just so I can kind of, in my own mind, reconstruct what happened and think about if I'm faced with a similar situation how I might deal with it differently," he said.

The Crash

Witnesses described an all-out rescue effort by store employees and passersby who rushed in amid a small fire after the crash.

"Jumped on top of airplane, crashed through windows and pulled the two pilots out as quick as they could," said Ralph Samuel, a service manager at the nearby Costco.

Many witnesses tried to help, and fire officials say at least one of them suffered minor cuts and burns.

Ian Gregor of the FAA said the plane had bounced while landing at Montgomery Field, continued westbound and crashed. According to witnesses, there were signs of trouble from the very beginning. Many saw the plane almost immediately after takeoff.

"Almost hit the extension wire and then I saw her going down," said a witness.

Vince Carter, a helicopter pilot, was training around Montgomery Field and his chopper was the closest aircraft to the plane. He said he remembers seeing it while it was still in the air, but seconds later, he heard the distress call.

"We heard the call and it was not something you easily forget," Carter said.

10News obtained the radio communication between the pilot and the air traffic control tower and the exchange is chilling.

"Oh my God, I'm not getting any altitude here," the pilot says.

The air traffic controller then tells her to go full throttle.   

"I'm full throttle," she says.

But apparently that was not enough. The desperation in the pilot's voice is unnerving.

"I'm going down," the pilot says.

Carter landed his helicopter and rushed over to the crash scene. What he saw shocked him.

"The right wing is crumpled but she's definitely flat so she probably stalled out trying to avoid all this stuff and landed in the only possible place she could land … luckily avoiding all this, all the cars, all the people," he said.

Carter said that sometimes, it does not even matter how much training or experience you have.

"We do as much as we can to be safe but things do happen, it's out of our control," he said.

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