3 killed in East Palo Alto plane crash 

Three people were killed when a small plane taking off in thick fog crashed into a residential East Palo Alto neighborhood Wednesday morning.

The victims all appear to have been on the plane, San Mateo County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Ray Lunny said.

Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said there are no reports yet of any injuries on the ground.

Authorities have not identified the people who were on the plane, but the aircraft was registered to Douglas Bourn, a Santa Clara resident.

William Kohl said Bourn has lived across the street from him on Wilson Court for many years.

Kohl said during a conversation with him years ago, Bourn said he was a flight instructor at the Palo Alto Airport and works at Tesla Motors in San Carlos.

A Tesla Motors official said the company was not commenting on the incident.

The crash happened shortly before 8 a.m. on Beech Street near Pulgas Avenue. Schapelhouman said parts of the plane came off and landed on homes, and that the body of the plane landed in the street and skidded a
distance.

Just before it crashed, the plane struck a PG&E tower, which caused a wing to snap off and land on the rear of a home at 1225 Beech St., Schapelhouman and residents said.

The home serves as a preschool, and one child was there at the time, said Pamela Houston, 33, who works at the center.

"When we heard the initial explosion I thought it was an earthquake," Houston said. "Then I looked out the window and saw fire."

Houston, the woman who owns the home and her family ran outside with the one child who was there and called 911. She said about seven or eight kids show up each day but that most hadn't arrived yet.

Houston said it seemed like a long time before firefighters arrived.

The crash also damaged another home and two parked cars.

Alisha Morris, 17, the niece of the preschool's owner, was shaken by the morning's events.

"I would never expect a plane to hit here," she said. "It was unexpected and scary. It makes me think anything could happen now."

Marie McKenzie, who lives several blocks away on Myrtle Street, said she has been advocating for the past three years to have planes stop flying over the neighborhood.

"It's a flagrant disregard for the community," she said. "We don't want that in our neighborhood."

She said planes fly low overhead daily and create a lot of noise.

"The crash shows that this is dangerous," she said. "Individual pilots are different than commercial pilots. The foggy conditions are inappropriate to fly in."

The FAA believes the plane was a twin-engine Cessna 310 that departed from Palo Alto Airport and was headed for Hawthorne Municipal Airport south of Los Angeles, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

It crashed shortly after takeoff, Gregor said. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Patricia Armistead, who lives around the corner on Pulgas Avenue, was home sick and was in a back room of her house when the crash happened.

"I was on my computer and I heard a great big crash and my whole house shook, and when I went outside I heard there was a plane that went down a couple houses from me," she said.

"You couldn't really see anything because the fog was so thick," she said, although she did see a few flames.

Armistead said shortly before 9 a.m. that streets had been shut down and that emergency responders had filled the area.

She said the neighborhood is adjacent to the Palo Alto airport.

"We hear the planes taking off and landing all the time because we're so close," she said.

Power outages have been reported through East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. Stanford Hospital is running on generators, a spokesman said.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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