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6 killed in small plane crash in Southern California

6 killed in Southern California plane crash
6 killed in Southern California plane crash 00:17

All six people aboard a twin-engine plane were killed when it crashed amid poor visibility while trying to land at a Southern California airport early Saturday morning, officials said, sparking a small brush fire in the process. 

The 1979 Cessna Citation 550 business jet crashed at around 4:15 a.m. local time near the French Valley Airport in Murrieta, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Elliot Simpson said in a Saturday night news conference. Murrieta is located in Riverside County. 

The plane had taken off at about 3:15 a.m. from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, according to the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration. 

6 killed in small plane crash in Southern California
A Cessna carrying six people crashed in a field near French Valley Airport in Murrieta, California, on July 8, 2023. All six people aboard were killed.   Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Riverside County Fire Department tweeted that the plane came "down in a field" and became "fully involved in fire." The blaze burned "approximately one acre of vegetation" before being contained at about 5:35 a.m.

The plane crashed about 500 feet short of the runway amid poor visibility due to weather conditions, Simpson disclosed.  

"Shorty before landing, the marine layer began to envelope the area with low ceilings and visibilities," Simpson said. "The pilot reported to air traffic control that he was gonna perform a missed approach, which generally happens when the pilot can't see the runway environment."

He noted that the plane had landed at French Valley Airport multiple times before. 

All six people aboard were pronounced dead at the scene, the Riverside County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Simpson said all the victims were adults.

The victims were identified by the Riverside County coroner as Abigail Tellez-Vargas, 33, Ibrahem Razick, 46, Alma Razick, 51, Lindsey Gleiche, 31, Manuel Vargas-Regalado, 32, and Riese Lenders, 25.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. The NTSB will release a preliminary report on the crash within about two weeks.

This is the second crash in the area in less than a week. CBS Los Angeles reported that another Cessna crashed near the French Valley airport shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, killing one person and injuring three others. 

The deceased victim was identified as 39-year-old Temecula resident Jared Newman, the father of the three surviving passengers, according to CBSLA. He was reportedly operating the aircraft under a training license, which is prohibited by federal regulations. 

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