Five people were killed when a twin-engine aircraft crashed near the South Coast Plaza shopping center, between Santa Ana and Costa Mesa Sunday.
No one was hurt on the ground, as the plane went down and hit one unoccupied car, but “fortunately, that person was inside the store shopping at the time of impact,” said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.
The plane went down at about 12:29 p.m. into the parking lot shared by Staples, a CVS drug store, a Michaels’ decorations store, and a Wells Fargo Bank branch, at 3861 S. Bristol St.
The nearby intersection of Sunflower Avenue at Bristol Street was to remain closed in all four directions as National Transportation Safety Board and FAA investigators scrambled to the crash, which was just northeast of South Coast Plaza and on the Santa Ana side of the city boundary between it and Costa Mesa.
The was about one mile northwest of the northern end of the runway at John Wayne Orange County Airport.
The plane was registered to a San Francisco company, and had been flown from the East Bay suburb of Concord, according to FAA data tracked on the internet.
The death toll was originally believed to be three, but was upped to five as firefighter examined the crash.
Only one parked car in the crowded parking lot was hit and destroyed, and the plane leaked jet fuel, which did not catch fire, Bommarito said at a news conference at 2:15 p.m.
“I don’t know anything about what this pilot did, or what he was thinking, but it could have been much more tragic,” Bommarito said. “This was a Sunday afternoon and we have people shopping, so the fact that we have no injuries on the ground is a miracle in itself. ”
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