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3 killed aboard small plane that crashed into East Palo Alto neighborhood [Updated]

February 17, 2010 | 10:21 am
A small twin-engine plane headed to Southern California crashed Wednesday into an East Palo Alto neighborhood, killing all three people on board, tearing into electrical transmission lines and sparking several fires on the ground.

A fire official told reporters at the scene that the Cessna 310 struck a home day-care center in the residential neighborhood then ricocheted off multiple vehicles when it hit the ground.

It was unclear if anyone on the ground was injured.

KTVU in San Francisco quoted a man named Daniel Morales, who said he had flown with the pilot before and identified him as a high-ranking official at Tesla Motors. [Updated at 10:37 a.m.: Khobi Brooklyn, a spokeswoman for Tesla, which is based in the Silicon Valley and has a design studio in Hawthorne, said the company had not yet received confirmation about who was on the flight.

"I can't confirm any of the details," she said, adding that the company would release a statement once it had more information.]

An FAA official confirmed the plane was headed to Hawthorne Municipal Airport but had crashed about a mile northeast of Palo Alto Airport after takeoff.

George Bracksher, who lives on Beech Street near where the plane crashed, said he was in bed when the plane went down.

“I just heard the boom,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was an earthquake or something. Right down the street, there was a big fire.”

He said his electricity went out. “There is no power for maybe miles around,” he said.

Caryn Ramirez, 18, who lives in the 1100 block of Beech Street, said she was changing her 1½-month-old daughter, Genevieve, inside the house at about 8 a.m. when the plane crashed down the street.

“All of a sudden it got dark, there was an orange flash, two seconds later the house shook,” she said. “I looked outside. There was a huge flame. I called 911. … I wrapped my daughter up and handed her to my sister-in-law. My father-in-law was outside putting out the fire in his truck.” She said debris from the plane had fallen on his truck, which then caught fire.

Ramirez said the family was evacuated and are still waiting to go back.

-- Alexandra Zavis and Maria L. La Ganga in East Palo Alto

Photo: The scene of the crash of a small plane in East Palo Alto, Calif. The yellow sheet covers a body. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press


3 Tesla Motors employees die in East Palo Alto plane crash

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