Four Killed When Jet That Departed From Orange County Crashes in El Cajon Neighborhood

Video from a doorbell camera shows the flash from an explosion when a Learjet crashed, killing four people onboard.

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Four people onboard a jet plane were killed when the plane crashed Monday night in a neighborhood east of San Diego.

The Learjet 35A went down just after 7 p.m. Monday in an unincorporated area of El Cajon, east of Gillespie Field, where it was scheduled to land, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. The plane departed earlier from John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

A doorbell camera captures the flash from an explosion when a jet crashed in El Cajon. Video broadcast Monday Dec. 28, 2021 on Today in LA.

No injuries or fatalities were reported on the ground. One home was damaged, the sheriff's department said.

The jet is registered to MedJet LLC, an air ambulance service based in El Cajon.

The crash left behind a field of debris and a stream of fuel, which was spread through streets by heavy showers. A hazardous materials team was called to the scene to clean up the mess.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.

NBC 7 spoke to some residents in the area who said heard the plane crash near their house.

"We were outside and basically, we heard the plane getting closer. Normally they get loud because we live right by the airport, but it got really, really loud and all of the sudden, we think it could’ve hit our power lines above our house, but we just saw bright blue and orange flashing lights and we heard the electricity running," said Lauren Watling, a nearby resident.

"And then after that, we heard the plane actually crash. We ran out immediately and there was a ton of smoke everywhere. All we saw was fire and smoke."

Matt Celustka told NBC 7 he heard a plane fly particularly low and was just waiting to hear an impact.

"I heard the pops and I just knew at that point. And I was worried if it hit any houses," said Celustka. "I went outside with a couple of neighbors just to see, and all I could see were flames in front of houses, up at the top of the street."


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One home was damaged as the result of the crash.

The plane also took out multiple power poles as it crashed. The SDG&E outage map at first showed up to 2,000 were without power but was later updated to show about 350 homes without electricity. Power is expected to be restored on Tuesday at around 6 a.m., according to SDG&E.

The American Red Cross will be providing assistance on Tuesday to residents who remain affected by the power outage.

SDG&E map shows power outages in the El Cajon area, Dec. 27, 2021.
SDG&E map shows power outages in the El Cajon area, Dec. 27, 2021.

Pepper Drive will remain closed between Topper Lane and North 2nd Street through Wednesday while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates the scene.

Sheriff deputies from the Santee Sheriff's Station and Lakeside Sheriff's Substation responded to the scene along with the Lakeside Fire Protection District, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the El Cajon Police Department.

Authorities are investigating a plane crash in the unincorporated Bostonia neighborhood near El Cajon Monday that caused some power outages in the area

In October, a small plane crashed into a residential street in Santee, leaving the pilot and a UPS driver dead.

After that crash, NBC 7 Investigates scoured through more than 120 NTSB investigation reports and dug up at least 35 plane or helicopter crashes into San Diego County neighborhoods since 2010.

In those crashes, 30 people died and 20 others were seriously injured.

The airport connected to the lion’s share of those crashes is Gillespie Field in El Cajon – there have been at least 16 crashes in surrounding neighborhoods. After that comes Montgomery-Gibbs in Kearny Mesa with at least nine.

It makes sense, Gillespie is one of the busiest small aircraft airports in the San Diego area with between 600 and 800 flights per day.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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