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UPDATED: Plane crash in Agua Dulce kills 3 people, 3 horses

Posted: October 21, 2010 2:00 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 10:00 a.m.
 

AGUA DULCE (AP) -- Investigators are trying to determine what caused a small plane to crash and burst into flames, killing three people and three horses.

The single-engine Cirrus SR22 went down at about 12:10 p.m. Thursday into a horse corral behind a barn in Agua Dulce, county fire Inspector Matt Levesque said. The plane caught fire but the fire was quickly doused, he said.

Coroner's investigator McCracken, who declined to give her first name, confirmed the third human death late Thursday.

Earlier, Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said two people were confirmed dead but it was not known if anyone else was aboard due to the state of the wreck. The Cirrus SR22 can carry up to four people.

The plane had departed from Van Nuys Airport about 11:55 a.m. and was headed to Parker, Ariz., when it went down, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

At about 12:20 p.m., the plane slammed into the ground in the 33200 block of Canyon Quail Trail in Agua Dulce — a remote, hilly desert area peppered with sprawling ranch properties.

The aircraft crashed with such force that its engine burrowed 3 feet deep into the mud, indicating it went down at an extremely steep angle, according to Capt. Bob Goldman of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Three horses in the corral were killed and a fourth was injured, Levesque said.

The names of the crash victims were not released Thursday, though Gregor confirmed a Calabasas company owned the aircraft.

Investigators stayed at the crash site into Thursday evening. Typically, the National Transportation Safety Board takes months to determine the exact cause of such crashes, Gregor said.

Janie Newton, 69, heard the crash from her home just down the street and ran outside to discover a disturbing scene.

“We heard the plane go over — we thought we heard a bump first, then we heard a huge explosion,” she said. “It was not a good sight, I could tell you that.”

Outside, she saw flames and huge, black billows of smoke in the corner of a neighbor’s corral where the plane crashed.

Three horses caught in the path of the crash died; at least one was euthanized, Newton said.

Less than an hour after the crash, a dense fog still blanketed the rural area north of Highway 14 and west of the Vasquez Rocks geological formation. The crash site was about a mile west of the Agua Dulce Airport.

The Cirrus SR22 is a four-seat light aircraft that is 26 feet long and 8 feet, 11 inches tall with a 38-foot, 4-inch wingspan, according to the manufacturer. It contains a 310-horsepower engine.

Including Thursday’s crash, 14 Cirrus SR22 planes have crashed this year, resulting in nine deaths nationwide, according to National Transportation Safety Board data.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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