The pilot, his wife and their teenaged daughter died on impact, after taking off from Montgomery Field just minutes before the crash. The victims have been identified as 65-year old William Stern,
his 53-year-old wife, Jennifer and their 19-year-old daughter, Katelyn all from
Witnesses say they spotted the Lincair Turbine aircraft spinning before it fell from the sky and slammed into this hillside within the Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve.
A hiker was the first person to call 911. But rough terrain made it difficult for rescue crews to get to the wreckage. Firefighters had to hike to the wreckage site. And, a helicopter was used to transport the bodies to the medical examiner.
As the NTSB takes over the investigation, there is more information available about the aircraft involved.
In 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration alerted Lancair operators about the plane's disproportionate number of fatal accidents. The experimental planes represent three percent of the U.S. amateur-built fleet, but were involved in 16 percent of the group's fatal accidents during an 11 month period. Sixty percent of those incidents resulted from loss of control.
Micron Technology CEO Steve Appleton was piloting the same type of aircraft when he died in February of 2012.
An animal, presumably the family's pet, also died. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
THIS IS THE LATEST INFORMATION. THE ORIGINAL STORY IS BELOW.
SANTEE (CNS) - Three people were confirmed dead in a small-plane crash Saturday in the Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve, north of Santee.
Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the single-engine Lancair IV-P crashed under unknown circumstances around 10:15 a.m. about 3 miles north of Santee.
"Sheriff's and fire officials are at the scene," Gregor said. "They are reporting there were 3 people on board and all were killed."
Gregor said the pilot had departed from Montgomery Field for Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix.
"The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate this accident," Gregor said.
NTSB is the lead investigative agency.
Gregor said the NTSB investigator usually posts a basic preliminary report on the agency's website, www.ntsb.gov, within a week or two of an accident. However, he said it typically takes NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.
CHP officer Robert Catano said a hiker in the area witnessed a small plane go down after hearing a loud boom. "He attempted to hike to where it was but couldn't reach it," Catano said. "The hiker said it looked like the plane may have been doing stunts, and never came out of it."
Catano said a sheriff's helicopter was sent out and found the crash site, which he said was in the area of Sycamore Canyon. The area is west of Route 67, north of Santee and east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The plane had been reported missing earlier, Catano said.
Neither the FAA nor the NTSB released crash victims' identities.
Gregor said a tail number for the plane could not be confirmed until next of kin have been notified.