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'Multiple' fatalities reported after 2 small planes crash in Watsonville

Multiple fatalities confirmed after planes collide over Watsonville airport
Multiple fatalities confirmed after planes collide over Watsonville airport 01:18

WATSONVILLE, Santa Cruz County -- A crash involving two small planes attempting to land at Watsonville Municipal Airport appears to have resulted in at least two fatalities, according to the city.

The Federal Aviation Administration (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. One person was on board the Cessna 152 and two people were on board the Cessna 340. 

One of the planes smashed into a hangar next to the runway, while the second plane ended up in a grassy field by the airport. 

In a tweet, the city of Watsonville said it received a report of "multiple fatalities" in the crash at 2:56 p.m. and that a number of agencies had responded to the incident. No injuries were reported to anyone on the ground, the FAA said.  

Wreckage of planes that collided at Watsonville Municipal Airport, August 18, 2022. CBS

Watsonville mayor Ari Parker said early Thursday evening that the city is in grief.

"We are grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss," Parker said. "I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences."

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates. 

The planes were about 200 feet in the air when they crashed, a witness told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Franky Herrera was driving past the airport when he saw the twin-engine plane bank hard to the right and hit the wing of the smaller aircraft, which "just spiraled down and crashed" near the edge of the airfield and not far from homes, he told the newspaper.

The twin-engine aircraft kept flying but "it was struggling," Herrera said, and then he saw flames at the other side of the airport.

The manager of the Watsonville Municipal Airport was unavailable for a phone interview in the hours after the crash. The airport accounts for about 40% of all general aviation activities in the Monterey Bay area, according to the City of Watsonville's website.

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