UPDATED: RIVERSIDE: Three dead, at least two injured, after plane crashes into homes
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UPDATED: Feb. 27, 11:45 p.m. With additional information and correction from Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore
UPDATED: Feb. 28, 1:38 a.m. With Photo Gallery and videos (See photographs and videos below)
RIVERSIDE – During an initial press conference, Moore said firefighters had confirmed four people were killed in the fiery plane crash. Around 10 p.m., Moore updated that only three people from inside the plane were killed when the small, twin-engine Cessna 310 plummeted into two homes and burst into flames in a Riverside neighborhood.
Moore had also previously stated fire officials initially believed there were occupants inside both residences that were destroyed in the plane crash; however, officials later confirmed that all residents from the two homes had been located and accounted for.
Video widely circulated over social media that shows the moment when a plane fell out of the sky into a Riverside neighborhood. Two homes were destroyed when the small plane smashed into them and burst into flames. Three of five people from inside the plane have been confirmed killed. One of the surviving victims is in “extremely critical” condition. The other, a teenage girl, sustained “very minor” injuries when she was ejected from the plane as it broke apart and burst into flames upon impact.
UPDATED: Feb. 27, 10 p.m. With additional information provided by Riverside Fire Chief
RIVERSIDE – Four people have been confirmed killed, at least two people were injured, and three to five people are unaccounted for after a small plane crashed into two homes near the Riverside Municipal Airport Monday, Feb. 27, according to officials.
The plane crash set at least two homes ablaze in the 6400 block of Rhonda Road near Dewey Avenue in Riverside, just east of the airport.
“Two homes were completely destroyed with moderate damage to adjacent homes,” Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore said during a press conference from the scene of the crash. The homes were destroyed by the crash and subsequent fire that was still burning several hours after the crash.
“It’s continuing to burn because we had quite a bit of fuel that was spread around,” Moore explained. “It is our understanding that (the pilot) had a full tank of fuel upon take-off.”
Pieces from the plane wreckage were found as far as “a half mile away,” according to Moore.
The crash happened about 4:40 p.m., moments after the plane took off, according to Airport Manager Kim Ellis. The plane was flying from Riverside to San Jose, according to a flight manifest filed by the pilot of the downed plane.
At least two adults and three children, including a husband, wife, and three teenagers were on board the plane when it went down, according to Moore who explained that the family was in southern California visiting Disneyland for a cheer conference. According to officials the mother was flying the plane when it crashed.
The plane, which was described by Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor as a Cessna 310, crashed less than two miles from the airport where it had just taken off from.
Within minutes of the crash being reported, City of Riverside Fire and Police personnel converged on the neighborhood to begin battling the blaze caused by the crash. When they arrived, firefighters also immediately began rescue operations for anyone who might have survived the crash.
More than 60 firefighters responded to the crash, according to Moore.
“Upon arrival, one of our engine companies…made an aggressive interior attack, finding one of the victims,” Moore explained. “They were able to extricate that victim and actually start treatment and that victim was transported to Arrowhead memorial Hospital in San Bernardino.”
That victim’s condition has been listed as extremely critical.
“We also found a victim that was ejected from the airplane, that was…one of the passengers from the plane,” Moore continued. “She was actually able to give us the most accurate information that there were actually five people on board the plane.”
Moore described the victim as a teenage girl and said the victim, who had been seated towards the rear of the plane, was transported to Riverside Community Hospital. Even though the sole surviving victim from the plane “sustained very minor injuries…we are treating her as a critical patient,” Moore explained.
“Upon impact, the plane pretty much split apart,” Moore said. “The other victims are scattered throughout the wreckage and we’re unable to determine if they were victims from the residence(s) or the aircraft itself.”
“They had residents in both homes,” according to Moore, who continued, “We are still are actively searching for victims.”
Witnesses to the crash reported what felt like an earthquake followed by a “big orange ball of fire.”
The circumstances that led to the plane crash were not immediately known, according to Gregor.
Asked if inclement weather played a contributing role in the deadly wreck, Moore said, “I would imagine that weather would contribute, but I don’t have that specific information. It’s always a possibility, but I would just be speculating at this point.”
“We’ve evacuated the entire street and will have to evacuate the whole block, which we’ll have to do for NTSB,” Moore said.
There are as many as forty homes on the street, according to Moore, with 20 on each side of the street.
FAA and National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected to arrive at the scene of the fatal crash by early evening.
NTSB officials will be handling the investigation, according to Moore.
City utilities responded to the scene to assist with several power lines that were damaged by the crash and subsequent fire.
No firefighters were injured while battling to bring the blaze under control.
“It’s horrible,” Moore said at the conclusion of a press conference. “Especially when you couple together that they were going to a cheer competition and this is supposedly a happy time and then just to have a tragic end like this. It’s really just a sad case for us.”
This is a developing story. Additional information will be updated as it becomes available.
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Trevor Montgomery spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including the Robert Presley Detention Center, the Southwest Station in Temecula, the Hemet Station, and the Lake Elsinore Station, along with many other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, Personnel and Background Investigations and he finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.