2 dead after Cessna 172 Skyhawk crashes in Southwest Fresno

A Cessna 172 Skyhawk crashed near Chandler Airport in Southwest Fresno and killed a man and a 9-year-old boy.
December 26, 2013 2:43:27 PM PST
A Cessna 172 Skyhawk crashed near Chandler Airport in Southwest Fresno and killed a man and a 9-year-old boy. Investigators say the plane crashed about 800 feet west of a runway at the airport, and no one on the ground was injured.

The pilot and 9-year-old boy were the only people in the plane. Investigators say they died on impact.

"It's cut in half. There's a piece right here. There's a branch in the middle of it. Just flames," witness Esmeralda Ortega said.

Ortega heard a loud crash ran outside and saw a small plane that slammed into a front yard near her house.

"At first I thought it was going to hit my uncle's house and my aunt she just started screaming get out the house. It just landed on the neighbor's house. I just told them get out there's a fire in front of your house, come out," Ortega said.

Fresno firefighters believe the pilot and the child left Fresno flew to Tehachapi. According to investigators the victims were headed back to Chandler Airport when they got into trouble in a neighborhood near Hawes and Thorne.

"The plane struck a tree and at that point the pilot tried to recover and was able to go at some distance and apparently the airspeed was too low and the plane stalled and landed in the front yard at the residence," Koby Johns with the Fresno Fire Department said.

Joe Luna and his family were sitting on the front porch and watched the small plane overhead clip their tree before it the ended up in flames about a mile away. He showed us the debris still in their backyard and described his horror watching the pilot struggle to maintain control.

"There was nothing to think we all got scared and ran," witness Joe Luna said.

Firefighters said the man who died in the crash may be a relative of the child, possibly an uncle. They say family members were at the airport waiting for them to land when the crash took place. The FAA and NTSB will be examining the scene in the coming days.


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