San Jose

Riverside Plane Crash Survivors Critically Injured; Teen Girl Among Dead

Two women who were thrown from a plane when the aircraft crashed in a Southern California neighborhood were hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday as authorities continued investigating the fiery wreck that killed three others aboard the plane.

The twin-engine Cessna 310 had departed from Riverside Municipal Airport at 4:40 p.m. Monday bound for San Jose went it slammed into houses about a mile away. The impact of the crash caused the plane to "split apart," Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore said.

"The airplane itself is in quite a few pieces, spread over a debris field" of about 100-150 feet, said Stephen Stein, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The victims were ejected from the plane and landed inside an unoccupied house, Riverside Fire Capt. Tyler Reynolds said. One woman was rescued by witnesses and the other was pulled out by firefighters. One of the victims suffered burns to 90 percent of her body.

The three others aboard the plane — a man, another woman and a teenage girl — were killed.

There were no injuries on the ground, Reynolds said.

The crash set off a devastating fire. Two of four homes damaged in the wreck were red-tagged, Reynolds said.

"It was like a loud boom," witness Jose Bautista told NBC4.

The victims — a married couple and three others from the San Jose area — were not officially identified by authorities as of Tuesday night.

Several family members told NBC4 that the couple, Nuri and Danuta "Dana" Hijazim owned the Cessna and were killed in the crash. Their daughter, Stacey Pierce, remained at the hospital in critical condition. 

"They were devoted to each other and their family which brought them so much joy," Christy Crown, the family's spokeswoman, said in a statement to NBC4.

Another family member confirmed to NBC4 that the third victim was Adine Farelas. Her mother, Silvia Farelas, is the other surviving victim.

The victims were heading back to San Jose after a cheerleading conference at Disneyland.

Investigators have received conflicting accounts of what may have led up to the crash and are continuing to interview additional witnesses, Stein said.

Weather in the area 60 miles east of Los Angeles had included rain, but there were no immediate indications of what caused the crash. NTSB investigators will examine environmental conditions, including the weather, along with the pilot's history, flight records and the physical components of the aircraft, Stein said.

Fourteen people were displaced by the crash, with nine of them receiving help from the Red Cross or family members, Riverside Councilman Mike Soubirous said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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