Multiple fatalities reported in mid-air plane crash

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WATSONVILLE – Multiple fatalities were reported Thursday after two airplanes collided while attempting to land at the Watsonville Municipal Airport, authorities said.

The mid-air crash was reported around 3 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In a statement, the FAA said a single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340 collided while the pilots were on their final approaches to the airport.

Wreckage of a single-engine Cessna airplane at the edge of the Watsonville airport after a mid-air collision between it and a two-engine plane, in Watsonville, Calif. on August 18, 2022 (Ethan Baron/Bay Area News Group) 

One person was onboard the Cessna 152 and two people were onboard the Cessna 304, according to the FAA.

In a statement posted to social media, the city of Watsonville said multiple fatalities were reported.

“Multiple agencies responded to Watsonville Municipal Airport after (two) planes attempting to land collided,” the statement read. “We have reports of multiple fatalities.”

The FAA did not confirm the fatalities but said there were no injuries to anyone on the ground.

Witnesses reported seeing two aircraft collide about 200 feet in the air. Franky Herrera was driving past the airport when he saw a twin-engine plane bank hard to the right and hit the wing of a smaller, single-engine aircraft.

“The smaller plane just spiraled down and crashed right here,” said Herrera, 26, an off-duty law enforcement officer, gesturing toward the mangled wreckage of the aircraft, near the edge of the airfield, about 100 feet from homes along Buena Vista Drive.

Emergency responders had placed a tarp over the smashed cockpit.

Herrera, of Watsonville, said the twin-engine plane continued on, but “it was struggling,” and then he saw flames at the other side of the airport, where initial reports indicated the aircraft had struck a hangar.

A photo posted by the city to social media showed a hangar with a caved in exterior wall.

In a follow-up statement, the city expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

“We are grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss,” Watsonville Mayor Ari Parker said. “I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Check back for updates.

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