A six-passenger aircraft attempting to land at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, came up short of the runway, crashing on the 405 freeway Friday morning local time.
The fire from the smoking twin-engine Cessna 310 was extinguished, and two people were airlifted to a local hospital. It was unclear if the patients had been passengers on the plane or were on the ground at the time of the crash.
The 405 freeway was shut down immediately after the crash, and the airfield announced that it was closed to arrivals.
The plane had departed from John Wayne Airport, and the pilot declared an emergency shortly after taking off. It was trying to return to the airport when the crash occurred.
Less than an hour later, arrival traffic at the airport and the northbound lane on the 405 had been reopened. The southbound lane remained closed.
“It looked like the plane hit the median and spun around and landed on the freeway,” said Wendy Haskel, who was taking an Uber to the Long Beach airport.
“We saw smoke about five to 10 minutes before that, and my Uber said, ‘I think that’s a plane.’ when we started driving by.”
Kai Hisen, 35, was driving on the north side of freeway when the crash occurred.
“I just kind of saw a plane … coming in but it just kind of went down really quickly,” he said. “And then all of a sudden it exploded and there were two explosions. The larger one was on the south side and then I saw a smaller one on the north side, and it was maybe about 500 feet away from where I was so everyone just basically immediately stopped and slowed to a halt on the freeway.”
Hisan added that when he drove closer, he could see that it was small plane. “It had broken into a couple pieces on the freeway,” he recalled. “The wreckage was completely just black, fire and smoke everywhere.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said its investigators were on their way to the scene.
The cause of the crash is unknown. There is no traffic cam at the intersection.
According to NBC Los Angeles, the plane was approaching the airport and had flown from Santa Ana to Palm Springs on Thursday afternoon. The aircraft is registered to Twin Props.
John Wayne Airport is an international hub and is a popular landing field for Southwest Airlines. It is the same airport where Harrison Ford flew too close to American Airlines Boeing 737 earlier this year.
According to the Orange County Register, the airport has been called among the “scariest” in the nation for its short runways that leads to sharper take offs and landings.
Andrew Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and Phil McCausland from New York.
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