Plane Crashes Onto 405 Freeway in Orange County, Los Angeles

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A small twin-engine plane crash-landed in Santa Ana on the 405 Freeway on Friday morning

A husband and wife in their late 50’s or early 60’s took off from John Wayne airport early Friday morning a twin-engine Cessna 310. Moments after taking off, the pilot declared an emergency, saying he had lost power in his right engine and was struggling to land as the aircraft rapidly lost altitude.

After a panicked struggle to keep the plane in the air, the pilot frantically radioing air traffic control at the airport for support, the plane crash-landed on the 405 Freeway and promptly burst into flame.

The recorded conversation between the pilot and air-traffic control revealed the pilot’s attempts to keep the plane from crashing. “Hey, we got a mayday! We got a mayday!” the pilot radioed shortly after take-off. “I lost my right engine.”

The tower cleared the pilot to turn back to the airport and land but then stated: “Your gear appears to be up.” Moments later, the plane crashed.

The pilot and his wife remain unidentified, and their conditions are unknown. Both were taken to Orange County Global Center, the closest trauma center available.

Horrifying accounts of the crash from witnesses

Dana Stimson and her husband were driving south on the 405 Freeway when they spotted the plane taking off, then abruptly losing altitude and banking to the right. “It favored its right side,” Stimson said. When the Cessna began to sway, Stimson added: “I told my husband it’s going down.”

Nga Dieu, who also witnessed the crash, said: “The fire burned the airplane like a toy in less than five minutes.”

A video taken of the accident by Dieu revealed two people dragging the pilot and his wife away from the burning wreckage.

Although several vehicles were damaged, no one aside from the pilot and his wife were injured.

“The fact a plane can crash-land on the freeway and only strike one vehicle is extraordinary,” said Orange County Fire Authority Captain Larry Kurtz.