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Pilot Killed After Small Plane Crashes In Pacoima Neighborhood; Councilwoman Calls For Airport To Be Shut Down

PACOIMA (CBSLA) – The pilot of a small Cessna plane was killed Thursday in a crash in a residential neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley.

(Photo via Jasmine Viel)

The crash happened at about 11:50 a.m. in the 10600 block of North Sutter Avenue in Pacoima. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was making its approach to Runway 12 at Whiteman Airport.

In audio from the control tower, the pilot calmly said he was having engine problems moments before the plane crashed just feet away from a home.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said the fiery crash also brought down a number of electrical wires, caught several cars on fire and appeared to have damaged at least one home.

Nobody on the ground was injured, and firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading.

Jasmine Hernandez was driving toward that very street when she says her car battery died seconds before the plane crash in what she called an act of God.

"I saw a whole bunch of kids running, screaming and they didn't know what to do," she said.

According to aviation records, the plane is owned by Civil Air Patrol — a volunteer organization that helps with emergency services, including search and rescue and disaster relief operations. On Thursday evening, the Civil Air Patrol confirmed that the pilot was one of their own on a flight from Bakersfield. His name was not released at the request of the family.

In a statement issued Thursday evening, L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez called for the airport, which is owned by the county, to be shut down.

"Today's accident is a reminder of the public safety threat that Whiteman Airport has long posed to the community of Pacoima; a community that derives no value from [its] operation, but is subject to all the negative impacts," she said. "As the county evaluates efforts to invest resources with greater equity, I'm calling for the closure and redevelopment of the Whiteman Airport to bring much needed housing, jobs, and economic opportunities to the region."

CBSLA reached out late Thursday night to L.A. County officials, but did not immediately hear back.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were conducting an investigation into the cause and circumstances of the crash.

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