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3 Santa Rosa residents including toddler suffer minor injuries after plane deploys parachute and crash lands

Parachute save Santa Rosa family after small plane's engine fails
Parachute save Santa Rosa family after small plane's engine fails 00:26

A Santa Rosa family of three -- including a 2-year-old child -- suffered only minor injuries after their small plane lost engine power and deployed an onboard parachute that floated the aircraft down into a remote part of Mendocino County last Friday.

small plane deploys parachute
A small plane deploys its safety parachute during a crash landing apparently caused by engine failure in Mendocino County on Friday, March 8, 2024. Shelter Cove Fire Department

The Cirrus SR22 took off from Shelter Cove Airport in Humboldt County about 1 p.m. March 8, headed to Santa Rosa with two 38-year-old adults and the child on board, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, which responded along with authorities from Humboldt County.

The single-engine plane lost power about five minutes after takeoff and the pilot tried to troubleshoot the problem but the aircraft was flying too low, authorities said.

"At this point, the pilot deployed the airplane's Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) which slowed the airplane's descent," according to a release from the Mendocino sheriff's office.

The parachute carried the aircraft down into trees near Yellow Road in Whitethorn in Mendocino County, about 6 miles from the airport.

The plane and parachute became entangled in the trees about 100 feet off the ground, said Mendocino County Sheriff's spokesperson Capt. Quincy Cromer. From there the aircraft eventually fell to the ground.

"These are usually worst-case scenarios," Cromer said. "The fact that they had only minor scratches and abrasions is a miracle."

The Shelter Cove Fire Department noted in an Instagram post that the incident was the second small plane crash that firefighters have responded to in the last two years. 

Mendocino County small plane crash damage
Mendocino County small plane crash damage. Shelter Cove Fire Department

"Fortunately, both incidents resulted in minor injuries and no fatalities, although two aircraft were destroyed," the post read.

Fire crews also had to extinguish a small fire at the site of the crash after reaching the location in steep, rugged terrain. The Instagram post also included images showing the extent of the damage to the small plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were contacted and are investigating the incident.

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