Single Engine Plane Crashes Near Lake Elsinore

Investigators today were trying to determine what caused a single-engine plane to crash near Lake Elsinore, killing a man and woman.

The crash of the Champion Citabria in hilly terrain about six miles northwest of Lake Elsinore, east of Interstate 15 and Lake Street, happened just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, said Jody Hagemann of the Riverside County Fire Department.

The plane had taken off from Corona Municipal Airport sometime after 11 a.m. Wednesday, said Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We believe the plane flew from Corona to French Valley and was returning to Corona when it crashed," Gregor said.

The wreckage was found about 6:40 p.m. by a friend of the pilot, who had gone up in his own aircraft to search for his friend, Gregor said.

Sheriff's Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela said it was too dark by the time firefighters got to the crash site to retrieve the bodies of the victims, whose names have not been released. A coroner's investigator went to the scene this morning, as did FAA personnel.

The plane, a fixed-wing normal acrobatic aircraft, is registered to Stephen Whitson of Perris.

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