Small plane crash in a Target, Costco parking lot could have been worse

Wreckage of small plane sits in a Target-Costco parking lot in San Diego after crashing on July 30, 2014; a passenger died but the pilot survived and no one on the ground was hurt KFMB-TV

SAN DIEGO -- A small plane clipped the top of a store before it crashed in the parking lot of a San Diego shopping center, killing an 80-year-old passenger and seriously injuring the 52-year-old pilot, authorities said.

Several witnesses rushed to douse the plane's flames and pull out the two women, the only people aboard. A man who helped was treated for minor cuts and burns, but no one on the ground was hurt by the crash itself.

The single-engine 1988 Mooney M-20L went down Wednesday in a parking lot that serves a Costco and a Target store in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood.

The plane bounced while landing at nearby Montgomery Field, continued westbound and went down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

However, helicopter pilot Vince Carter said he had taken off from the field when he heard the pilot tell the control tower in a radio transmission that she had lost power on takeoff.

"She said she lost power and she was going down and that was it," he told CBS San Diego affiliate KFMB-TV.

There was no immediate way to reconcile the two reports.

 San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

The plane clipped the top of the Target store and knocked down a light pole, police Lt. Steve Behrendt said. KFMB reports the plane wound up near a Costco store just west of the airport.

It spun around and finally landed in the parking lot in a loading dock area away from the main entrances, and no cars were there, city fire spokesman Lee Swanson said.

The plane caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused. Swanson said the passenger had serious burns and died at a hospital.

The pilot also had major injuries, he said. However, Behrendt said she was expected to survive.

He told reporters, "We were very fortunate that it crashed right between both stores" and didn't hit anyone or any vehicles on the ground. ... We were very lucky this time."

Television news reports showed the white plane appeared to be mostly intact, but its nose and one wing were torn up.

"The front of the passenger compartment, the engine is essentially broken off," Swanson said. "The landing gear is off, it's lying flat on its belly. There's some debris for several yards in each direction."

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