Pilot Dies in Emergency Landing

An emergency landing claims the life of a pilot in San Gabriel

A pilot who tried to make an emergency landing in a San Gabriel parking lot on Saturday, died when his single-engine plane crossed a road, hit a wall and burst into flames.

Witnesses said the plane came down in a parking lot, but ran out of room, skidded across a street and crashed nose-first into a masonry wall outside a factory.

"The airplane caught fire and the only person on board was killed," Ian Gregor of the FAA said. "The FAA and NTSB will investigate. Investigators from both agencies are en route to the crash site."

"We don't know what happened," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Walker to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. "We don't know if it lost power. The plane was fully engulfed when we got here."

The pilot's identity has not been released, but the plane is registered to David E. Flotho of Grants Pass, Ore., according to a federal registry.

The crash near Walnut Grove Avenue, north of Grand Avenue, was reported at 4:17 p.m. Saturday.

"The pilot basically put a thread through the end of a needle," said county fire department Capt. Curtis Hummel to news crews. "The pilot put it down in a pretty narrow spot and narrowly missed traffic and a building."

No other injuries occurred.

The plane, which departed from Brackett Field in La Verne, was on its way to Van Nuys when it crashed, Gregor said.

What prompted the pilot to try to land was unknown. It was not immediately clear if he made a distress call before the accident, though officials said he was in contact with the El Monte airport control tower.

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