Authorities say five people, including a family of three from Fresno, were killed when a small, single-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the South Lake Tahoe airport this weekend.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft, a 1980 model Piper PA-32-301T, took off from Lake Tahoe Airport about 9:50 pm Saturday.
Witnesses reported that the plane sounded like it had engine problems before it crashed into a meadow a short while later. It was reported to have dipped down and into the ground while trying to turn.
“Some witnesses saw it attempt to turn and then dip, then crash and upon impact it burst into flames,” said Lt. Pete Van Arnum of the El Dorado Co. Sheriff’s Dept.
Upon crashing, the plane wreckage sparked a one-acre fire that took more than 90 minutes to put out. Authorities added that much of the wreckage was destroyed by the fire, initially making identification of the aircraft and victims difficult.
Registration records show the plane belonged to Francisco De La Mora. CBS47 reports it was De La Mora who died in the crash along with his wife Lorena, their 6-year old daughter and two of their family friends, Harold and Kin Cardwell.
“Our hearts go out to the families of those that perished in this tragic accident. Thanks to the quick and cooperative efforts by multiple agencies,” said Mayor Claire Fortier in a release.
The same plane was involved in a 2005 non-injury crash in Destin, Florida, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. It had a different owner at the time.
KMPH has more on the tragic Lake Tahoe plane crash in the video below: