Sylmar plane crash where pilot died. Photo courtesy OnScene.TV

Authorities Friday identified the pilot of a small plane who died when the aircraft crashed alongside the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway in the Sylmar area.

John King, 62, died at the scene of the crash, which occurred Wednesday afternoon, according to the coroner’s office. His city of residence wasn’t released by the coroner’s office, but Federal Aviation Administration records list King as a Torrance resident and the owner of the twin-engine Cessna 337 Skymaster that crashed near Sayre Street, striking some trees and coming to rest on an embankment next to the 210 Freeway.

King was the only person aboard the plane, Eva Lee Ngai of the FAA said.

The crash caused a small fuel leak which was quickly contained by fire crews, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the cause of the crash, Ngai said.

The crash occurred in the vicinity of Whiteman Airport in Pacoima. It was the third crash in recent months to occur near the airport, prompting questions about its continued operation. In November, a plane crashed in a neighborhood near the runway, killing a Civil Air Patrol pilot. In January, a plane landed on train tracks near the airport and was struck by a Metrolink train.

Following the January crash, the county Board of Supervisors asked its staff to begin compiling documents and data that would need to be presented to the FAA if the county opted to seek a closure of the airport.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez issued a statement Wednesday calling for an immediate closure of the airfield.

“Tragically, another life cut short by a plane crash, and my heartfelt condolences to the victim’s family,” she said. “Pending confirmation of its departure, the frequency of these incidents should warrant an immediate closure and investigation over the private operations at Whiteman Airport out of respect for the lives of the victims, their families and our community.”

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