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2 men critically hurt in crash of small plane near San Bernardino Airport

February 7, 2011 |  9:03 pm

Two people were critically injured Monday when their twin-engine airplane crashed into an RV storage facility near San Bernardino Airport, authorities said.

Lonny Rollins, 39, of San Luis Obispo and Greg Fitzgerald, 61, of Paso Robles were reported in critical condition after undergoing surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center on Monday afternoon, according to San Bernardino fire spokesman Rodd Mascis.

“Their conditions are certainly guarded,” Mascis said. He said he did not know specifics about their injuries.

One man was found on the ground outside the plane, a Beechcraft Baron, and might have been ejected  upon impact, Mascis said. A bystander attempted to pull the other man out of the plane before firefighters, who were nearby watching an unrelated test flight, arrived, he said.

No other injuries were reported.

Some motor homes parked nearby were damaged, but the full extent of property affected was still unknown, Mascis said. “If it went down in a neighborhood or a commercial area, a lot more people could have been hurt, so that is fortunate,” he said.

The pilot reported a problem with the landing gear about 11:45 a.m. and flew past the control tower at the airport so personnel could check if the gear was down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Controllers told the pilot his gear appeared to be down and cleared him to land. But the plane crashed as it circled and approached for a landing, Gregor said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, he said. It could take about a month to discover the likely cause.

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