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At least 2 dead after plane crashes into homes in Santee neighborhood

UPS confirmed one of its drivers was killed when a small plane crashed in east San Diego. Colleagues identified the pilot killed in the crash as a cardiologist.

SANTEE, Calif. — At least two people were killed Monday when a small plane crashed into homes in a residential neighborhood of Santee in East San Diego County, according to authorities. The pilot of the plane was identified by colleagues while UPS confirmed one of their drivers was killed in the crash. 

Two other people were injured.

The aircraft went down at the corner of Jeremy and Greencastle streets about 12:15 p.m., according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Aerial footage from Chopper 8 showed two homes extensively damaged by fire. Large plumes of black smoke were also seen in the area.

Security cameras at a nearby home captured video of the plane going down into homes and the resulting flames:

Dr. Sugata Das was identified as the pilot by a colleague in a statement to News 8: 

“We are deeply sad to hear news of a plane owned by local cardiologist Dr. Sugata Das which crashed near Santee,” said Dr. Bharat Magu. Chief Medical Officer at Yuma Regional Medical Center. “As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man Dr. Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend our prayers and support to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time."

An online profile about Das on a nonprofit's website indicates that he lived in San Diego and worked in Yuma flying between the two frequently. 

Audio between the pilot and air traffic control revealed Das may have been disoriented before the crash.

Santee Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita confirmed Monday afternoon that there were “at least two fatalities” and two other people were transported to local hospitals. 

The deputy fire chief confirmed that a UPS truck outside the homes sustained major damage. The UPS driver has been identified as 30-year UPS veteran, Steve Krueger. UPS issued the following statement confirming that one of their employees was killed in the crash: 

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.

We are cooperating with the responding authorities in their investigation, and we are respectfully deferring questions to the investigating authorities.”

The two people injured were in one of the homes that ended up completely destroyed. Jim Slaff identified the couple to News 8 as his mother and stepdad Maria and Phil Morris and said they were taken to UCSD Medical Center for treatment for burns.

Cell phone video shows neighbors pulling Maria from the home. Good Samaritans also broke a fence down to rescue her husband from the backyard.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help the couple with their recovery.

The home next door which was also destroyed belonged to another couple identified on a separate GoFundMe page as Courtney and Cody Campbell. According to the page, the couple was at work when the plane crashed but lost all their personal belongings.

Matsushita said it was unknown how many people were on the plane. He said 12 homes were affected by the plane crash with two being a total loss. He said the debris field for the crash spans about a block with pieces of the aircraft hitting several homes. 

According to Donna Durckel from Land Use & Environment County of San Diego, the Cessna that crashed in Santee did not "originate from or plan to land at Gillespie Field." Durckel said its flight plan was from Yuma, Arizona to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport. 

"The start or end of its flight was not Gillespie Field. The plane was not in radio contact with the Gillespie Field tower, so there was also no indication they were attempting to land at Gillespie," Durckel said.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department tweeted asking for videos and photos of the crash to share with the National Transportation Safety Board and help with their investigation. 

The NTSB and FAA will investigate the crash. An NTSB investigator is expected to arrive Tuesday to begin the on-scene investigation. 

SDG&E also responded to the scene for an active gas leak. Matsushita said Monday afternoon they were working to make the scene safe for fire crews. 

Officials also confirmed that students at nearby schools were safe and unaffected by the crash.

According to the Santana High School Twitter account, the crash happened two or three blocks from the school but all students were safe. Students were released for lunch or dismissal if they did not have any other classes on Monday.

WATCH: Plane crashes into 2 homes in Santee neighborhood (Oct. 11, 2021)