SAN DIEGO (AP) — A small plane clipped the top of a store before it crashed in the parking lot of a San Diego shopping center, killing a 78-year-old passenger and seriously injuring the 52-year-old pilot, authorities said.
Several witnesses rushed to douse the plane's flames and pull out the two women, the only people aboard. A man who helped was treated for minor cuts and burns, but no one on the ground was hurt in the crash.
The single-engine 1988 Mooney M-20L went down Wednesday in a parking lot that serves a Costco and a Target store in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood.
The plane bounced while landing at nearby Montgomery Field, continued westbound and went down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
However, helicopter pilot Vince Carter said he had taken off from the field when he heard the pilot tell the control tower in a radio transmission that she had lost power on takeoff. "She said she lost power and she was going down and that was it," he told KFMB-TV.
It wasn't immediately clear which version of events was correct.
The plane clipped the top of the Target store and knocked down a light pole, police Lt. Steve Behrendt said.
It spun around and finally landed in the parking lot in a loading dock area away from the main entrances, and no cars were there, San Diego Fire Department spokesman Lee Swanson said.
The plane caught fire, but the flames were quickly doused. The passenger had serious burns, and she died at a hospital, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office. The woman was initially described by a fire department spokesman as 80 years old, but the medical examiner's office later said she was 78.
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