A small single-engine Piper PA-32 airplane took off from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego at 11:57 am on Aug. 24th. Flying along the coast when it began experiencing mechanical issues;the cause of which is currently unclear.
The pilot had to make an emergency landing at around 12:15 pm on Aug. 24th Southbound on Interstate 5, just south of Del Mar, California.
According to The San Diego Tribune, both the pilot and passenger in the aircraft were uninjured. However, at least four vehicles were hit by the aircraft and two people suffered from possible minor injuries.
“Paramedics took both of those people to hospitals for treatment. Their injuries included superficial cuts from shattered glass,” José Ysea, a spokesperson for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said.
These unsuspecting victims included a woman and her granddaughter who were in their SUV on Interstate-5 when the plane landed and lost half of its right wing to the back of their vehicle.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the pilot urgently planned to land the aircraft in a nearby dirt field, but couldn’t reach it in time and evidently landed in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. The plane came to a stop with its nose and part of its left wing hanging over the center median.
A couple that was affected by the plane’s landing was Sarah Tribett and her husband, in town from Texas to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary. The couple was driving south on the freeway in a rented Kia sedan when their back windshield was destroyed.
“I didn’t know at the time it was a plane. But it hit really hard and all of the sudden there was just glass everywhere … and I looked up and there was the plane, in front of us, just kind of all over the road,” Tribett said in an interview with OnScene TV.
The plane’s pilot and passenger also later apologized to the couple and people in the other affected vehicles thanking them for breaking the initial fall of the plane.
According to CBS8, authorities shut down the southbound side of the freeway along with part of the northbound side because jet fuel had spilled at the scene of the accident. At approximately 4:30 p.m. a crane operator lifted the plane onto a big-rig flatbed and removed it from the interstate.
Considering the high-traffic location of the emergency landing, it is fortunate that this incident ended with only minor injuries to two people that were external cuts from shattered glass.
The Federal Aviation Administration and California Highway Patrol are currently investigating the cause of the plane’s emergency landing.