Cal Fire confirmed that two people have died after a plane crashed in a vacant lot northwest of the Banning Municipal Airport around 9:30 a.m. Friday.
The plane crashed near Ramsey and Hathaway Streets, with the FAA reporting that the two victims were the only ones on the plane.
The crash ignited a small fire that was quickly extinguished by firefighters, according to CalFire.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be handling the investigation.
“I’m still shocked, like I said they’re still– my kids are still watching (police) come and go. Just shocked. You don’t expect a plane to crash right in front of your house, said Banning resident, Johnathan Bates.
Several agencies, including federal investigators, combed the crash site for evidence of where the plane originated and a cause of the crash.
“The way the the response was– it’s an assumption that (the pilot) probably sounded in distress because (first responders) were here like 20 seconds after it happened. They were here immediately. CHP, Banning PD, Morongo PD, the fire department,” Bates said.
What remained of the aircraft could be seen perched atop a small hill.
“I was out here smoking a cigarette and my wife went inside. When I turned around that’s when I heard the boom,” Bates said.
The crash site is about two miles from the Banning Municipal Airport. While it’s unclear whether the plane was coming or going from there, Bates said he has always been paranoid living so close to an airport.
Bates remembered seeing white smoke immediately after the crash.
The identities of the people inside the plane have not been released.
FULL FAA STATEMENT
“An unidentified airplane crashed in a vacant lot northwest of Banning Municipal Airport in Banning, Calif., around 9:30 a.m. local time Friday. There were two people aboard. No injuries were reported to anyone on the ground. FAA will release the aircraft tail number after investigators verify it at the scene. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents.”
The information above is preliminary and subject to change.