10 Injured As Plane Hits Apartment Building

AP Photo
AP Photo

June 6, 2003
Posted at: 8:12 p.m. CDT

LOS ANGELES - A small airplane plunged into an apartment complex Friday, setting the three-story building ablaze and injuring at least 10 people.

Five of the victims were critically injured, said Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Franco. Authorities had no immediate information about deaths, and they didn't believe the crash was terrorism.

Witnesses saw the plane plunge into the building shortly before 4 p.m. in Los Angeles' Fairfax district, near Hollywood.

"I looked up and saw the plane just do a nosedive," area resident Aaron Hooker told KABC-TV. "It didn't seem real."

The building, which had about 30 units, burned fiercely at first. A number of people approached the building and tried to help people out, witnesses said. Firefighters had the blaze under control in about a half-hour. By then about half the building was gutted.

The plane was believed to have been a four-seat aircraft that took off from Santa Monica Airport about 10 miles away, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker.

A single-engine Bonanza BE-35 departed Santa Monica at 3:45 p.m. Seven minutes later the Santa Monica tower gave its pilot a frequency change to contact a radar control facility for flight guidance. The plane never contacted the facility, Walker said.

The Bonanza pilot did not file a flight plan and was operating on visual flight rules, he said. He did not have any other information about the plane, including how many people were aboard.

The plane went down about a block from the athletic fields of a high school.

Adam Krolfifer of High Point, N.C., was in line waiting to see a taping of "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn" when he heard a plane overhead.

"We were waiting at CBS Studios. I heard a plane, like he was doing acrobatic moves. About four minutes later, we saw a huge plume of black smoke," said Krolfifer, who was in Los Angeles on vacation.

"It sounded like it was making maneuvers, the engine getting stressed out," he said.

California authorities notified the Homeland Security Department about the crash, and the agency was working with state and local officials to monitor the situation, spokeswoman Rachael Sunbarger said.

FBI agents were sent to the crash site but only as a precaution, spokeswoman Cheryl Mimura said.

"There is no indication that it is an act of terrorism," Mimura said.

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