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Date : May 20, 2024
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Investigation launched into Santa Cruz County plane crash

WATSONVILLE – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the non-fatal Sunday crash of a small plane at the Watsonville Municipal Airport.

Administration spokesperson Elizabeth Isham told the Sentinel Monday that a single-engine Cessna 172 crashed after clipping power lines while on approach to the airport around 2:30 p.m.

  • The top of a utility pole sheared off during Sunday’s...

    The top of a utility pole sheared off during Sunday’s airplane crash landed in a Buena Vista Drive driveway across from the airport. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

  • The Cessna 172 rests on its nose after flying into...

    The Cessna 172 rests on its nose after flying into utility lines along Buena Vista Drive on Sunday. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

  • A PG&E worker arrives at Sunday’s airplane crash in Watsonville....

    A PG&E worker arrives at Sunday’s airplane crash in Watsonville. CalFire and Watsonville firefighters, Watsonville Police and Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies also responded. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

  • A PG&E worker inspects damage to power lines on Buena...

    A PG&E worker inspects damage to power lines on Buena Vista Drive following Sunday’s plane crash. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

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The 73-year-old pilot sustained moderate injuries, but was taken to the hospital where she is expected to recover. There were no other passengers aboard the aircraft.

“Investigations take several weeks to months to complete,” Isham wrote to the Sentinel in an email.

Cal Fire’s CZU unit was the lead agency at the incident and said it was unable to share the identity of the victim at this time.

The plane was planted in a slightly angled vertical position with its tail in the air and nose crunched, facedown in the green and yellow grass around the airport’s perimeter. Its wheels and wings were tangled up in wires from close-by power lines and the upper half of one of the wooden poles had been sheared off and launched across the street into a neighbor’s driveway.

Upon arriving at the scene, first responders asked the Sentinel to keep away from the chain link fence adjacent to the crash site for worries that it may have been electrified after also getting draped in the fallen lines.

The Sunday crash is the second in less than six months at the airport in Watsonville. An incident in August of last year turned fatal when two Cessna planes crashed mid-air while making their final approaches to the airport. All involved in the collision were killed including two aboard a Cessna 340 and one piloting a Cessna 152.

California Highway Patrol spokesperson Israel Murillo said Monday that road closures near the recent crash site at Calabasas Road and Buena Vista Drive as well as Miller Avenue and Buena Vista Drive had been lifted.

Staff photographer Shmuel Thaler contributed to this story.

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