Witnesses: Engine quiet before plane hit freeway

Posted at 8:37 AM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 12:07:12-04

SAN DIEGO -- The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into an amateur plane that crashed into a car on Interstate 15 in Fallbrook, killing a woman and injuring five people.

The experimental amateur-built Nokes Matthew Lancair IV, a single-engine low-wing plane, crashed on the freeway in the Pala Mesa area at 9:15 a.m. on April 2. According to the NTSB, the plane took off from Gillespie Field at 9 a.m.

Witnesses reported that the engine was quiet before the plane hit the freeway. Investigators identified the first point of contact with the ground as a 12-foot long ground scar marked by blue paint from the belly of the plane.

The plane skidded several feet before its nose smashed into the left side of the truck of a Nissan four-door sedan that was parked on the northbound shoulder, the NTSB said. It then pushed itself into the right back seat area. The propeller and engine enmeshed into the car.

The plane pushed the car off the shoulder and into a dirt area.

Antoinette Frances Isbelle, 38, a passenger in the right rear seat of the car, died at the scene. Three other people in the car sustained serious injuries.

The pilot, 62-year old Dennis Hogge, and his passenger, a 50-year-old woman, were also seriously hurt.

Aviation expert Glen Winn told 10News he was struck by the witness account that the engine was quiet.

Winn said, "My personal opinion is that the engine lost power."

In its report, the NTSB did not disclose a possible cause for the crash. It will do so when it releases its final report, which will likely come later this year.

Winn added, "The big importance, when they examine the aircraft again, piece by piece, the fuel tank -- was there any fuel left? Obviously, there wasn't a fire … perhaps fuel was not flowing to the engine."

Winn noted that his opinion was speculation on his part. He based it on the preliminary report that is not "set in stone."