Two private airplanes collided in midair this week and crashed into a hangar near the Watsonville Municipal Airport near Santa Cruz, California.
The collision, which reportedly resulted in “multiple fatalities,” was first reported just before 3 p.m. on Thursday, according to Watsonville authorities.
In a tweet later that day, the city explained: “Multiple agencies responded to Watsonville Municipal Airport after 2 planes attempting to land collided.”
Among the local first responders who responded to the call were officers with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and the Watsonville Police Department.
The Federal Aviation Administration provided additional details, including a description of the planes involved as a twin-engine Cessna 340 and a single-engine Cessna 152. Two individuals were on the first plane and one was aboard the second. An investigation into the cause of the collision is currently underway by the FAA.
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All of the casualties were contained to the pilots and passengers on the planes. As photos of the crash scene revealed, one plane crashed into the hangar while another came to rest in a nearby field.
One witness indicated that the planes appeared to be about 200 feet in the air at the time of the crash.
Another witness said he was driving on a road near the airport when he noticed the larger plane clip the wing of the single-engine aircraft. The later airplane “just spiraled down and crashed,” Franky Herrera added, narrowly missing nearby homes in the process.
As for the twin-engine plane, Herrera said that it “was struggling” to remain airborne after the collision, but soon burst into flames and crashed.
Mayor Air Parker issues a statement noting that locals “are grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss,” offering his “deepest and most heartfelt condolences” to those affected.
The city confirmed there were multiple deaths in a social media statement, writing: “We are absolutely saddened to hear about the tragic incident that took the lives of several people. The City of Watsonville sends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who passed.
According to the airport’s website, it houses more than 300 planes and consists of four runways that primarily cater to recreational planes and aircraft used in the agricultural industry.