5 Dead After Planes Collide Midair Near San Diego Airport: Authorities - NBC Southern California
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5 Dead After Planes Collide Midair Near San Diego Airport: Authorities

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Five people were killed when two small planes collided midair in a fiery crash northeast of Brown Field Municipal Airport in San Diego, authorities said. 

    The incident happened at approximately 11 a.m. Sunday near Otay Mesa Road and Harvest Street when a twin-engine Sabreliner and a single-engine Cessna 172 collided, according to preliminary reports, said Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Ian Gregor. 

    "It appears that it was a very violent crash as you can tell by both aircrafts that are in multiple pieces," said Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler.

    Both planes were approaching Brown Field, an airport close to the U.S.-Mexico border, Gregor said. 

    NTSB confirmed the Sabreliner involved in the crash was leased by military contractor BAE Systems on a mission training flight.

    "BAE Systems was alerted this afternoon that a small aircraft carrying its employees collided with another," the company said in a statement to NBC7, adding that its "employees and their families are our first priority and we are prepared to offer all our support." 

    NTSB investigator Andrew Swick said the pilot of the Cessna, who was also killed in the crash, was on a cross-country trip.

    Earlier, Schuler said four people were killed as a result of the crash, though that number was expected to change as officials continue their investigation. Sunday evening, NTSB officials updated the death toll to include a fifth victim.

    "We don’t know anything about the identities the victims nor where they were taking off or where they were going," Schuler said. "We don’t who the planes belong to, either."

    The two planes crashed at different wreckage sites at least a mile apart from each other. The Sabreliner crashed on a grassy slope and the Cessna fell within the bounds of what authorities said is a wildlife preserve.

    The fiery plane wreckage ignited several nearby brush fires. Flames were quickly put out by fire crews on the ground and a helicopter dumping water on the area. 

    One Chula Vista firefighter was taken to the hospital after he suffered a minor heat-related exhaustion injury, Schuler said. 

    The details of the crash are under investigation by the FAA and NTSB.