Twin-Engine Plane Crashes Into California 405 Freeway

Plane crash on California Freeway.
Chris Carlson / AP Images

A twin-engine plane crashed into one of California’s busiest freeways and burst into flames. The pilot and his passenger were pulled from the wreckage.

The plane, a Cessna 310, had just taken off from John Wayne Airport when the pilot told air traffic controllers that he had lost power in his right engine and the plane was going down.

“Hey, we got a mayday! We got a mayday!”

The tower told the pilot that his landing gear was still up, and the pilot announced that he had lost power in the engine. He tried to turn the plane around, make it back to the airport, and land the plane, but just one minute after talking with air traffic control, the Cessna crashed into the freeway’s center divider and caught fire.

One witness who was driving down the freeway with her husband and three children described the fire that consumed the plane after it crashed into the freeway.

“The fire burned the airplane like a toy in less than five minutes.”

California’s 405 freeway is the third busiest interstate in the entire country, with an average of 379,000 vehicles traveling on it per day. Analysts said that this plane crash could have been much worse, but amazingly, only one vehicle was involved when the plane hit the freeway. A Mitsubishi pickup truck was “clipped” by the aircraft — but considering the high amount of traffic, the accident could have been much worse and involved more cars.

Plane Crash on 405 Freeway.
[Image by Orange County Fire Authority/AP Images] Orange County Fire Authority / AP Images

At the moment the airport hit the concrete, it caught fire, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the air. Witnesses said they noticed the small plane favoring its right side, then chaos as smoke filled the air and police and fire crews rushed to respond. An off-duty firefighter pulled the pilot and his passenger from the wreckage, and they were taken to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana. The extent of their injuries has not been released.

John Wayne plane crash California.
[Image by Chris Carlson/AP Images] Chris Carlson / AP Images

The plane crash happening in a busy urban area meant that many people saw it, from drivers to workers in high-rise buildings. Many posted videos of the crash to Twitter and tagged @JohnWayneAir, for John Wayne Airport. Crews are still cleaning up the freeway, but hope it will reopen by 5 p.m.

[Featured Image by Chris Carlson/AP Images]