SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) – At least two people were confirmed dead after a plane crashed in a neighborhood near Santana High School in Santee Monday afternoon, causing a fire that engulfed at least two homes.
At around 12:30 p.m., authorities began receiving reports of a plane down in a neighborhood on Greencastle Street, near Jeremy Street. According to the FAA, the plane was a twin-engine Cessna C340 and crashed at about 12:15 p.m. The FAA added, "We do not yet know how many people were on board."
The plane was owned by Dr. Sugata Das, according to the Yuma Regional Medical Center, however there's no confirmation whether Das was the pilot at the time of the crash.
“We are deeply sad to hear news of a plane owned by local cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das which crashed near Santee,” said Dr. Bharat Magu. Chief Medical Officer at YRMC. “As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend our prayers and support to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time."
UPS confirmed that one of its employees was killed during the plane crash. In a statement, the UPS said:
We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.
We are cooperating with the responding authorities in their investigation, and we are respectfully deferring questions to the investigating authorities.
The crash appeared to have sparked a fire that burned at least two homes and several vehicles, but responding firefighters were able to put out the blaze before it spread to other houses.
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Santee Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita said two people were confirmed dead while two victims were taken to the hospital.
Matsushita described the scene as “pretty brutal” and noted there was a possibility of more fatalities.
Additionally, at least 10 homes were deenergized by San Diego Gas & Electric due to the emergency response.
According to the county, the plane's flight plan listed the aircraft coming from Yuma, Ariz., and scheduled to land at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Kearny Mesa. The county added that the plane was not in radio contact with nearby Gillespie Field tower, and there is no indication it was trying to land there.
The airplane has the capacity to seat six passengers, with two seats in the front and two in the back.
The Cessna C340 is usually used for business and is pressurized.
Details on what led to the crash were not immediately available.
According to the San Diego Sheriff's Department, authorities have closed Jeremy St., between 2nd St. and Mast Blvd., and N. Magnolia Ave., between 2nd St. and Mast Blvd. A temporary evacuation point was set up at the Cameron Family YMCA at 10123 Riverwalk Dr.
Meanwhile, Santana High School officials tweeted the following during the emergency response to the crash and fire: "All Students are Secure. There was a plane crash 2 or 3 blocks away. We are currently in a 'Secure Campus.'"
Just before 1 p.m., school officials tweeted: “We have been given the OK by @SDSOSantee to come out of ‘Secure Campus’. We are now out of a ‘Secure Campus’ Students are being released for lunch or dismissal, if they do not have any other classes today.”
Following the crash, the Grossmont Union School District released the following statement:
Our students are safe. At the request of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Santana initiated a “Secure Campus” which is called when there is law enforcement activity in the area. In a Secure Campus, our school day continues. Once the Santee Sheriff’s Station gave Santana permission to lift the Secure Campus, students were released for lunch or dismissal if they did not have any other classes today. Six and Seventh periods still occurred, and all extracurricular activities will still happen after school.