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Small plane makes emergency landing, hits SUV near I-8 in El Cajon

Greenfield Drive has been closed due to that plane crash near Interstate 8 east of Gillespie Field, but no freeway lanes are impacted, according to El Cajon police.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A pilot was seriously injured but able to walk away from the wreckage of a light plane that crashed Thursday onto a city street in eastern San Diego County.

The single-engine Cessna 195 went down shortly after 10:30 a.m. between two bridges separating the eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 8 over Greenfield Drive in El Cajon, Heartland Fire & Rescue spokesman Andy McKellar said.

When it hit the street, the aircraft struck an eastbound Hyundai Santa Fe, leaving the compact SUV with "moderately serious" damage, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

Carrie Zub of Alpine, was behind the wheel. Her dog, Finley, was in the back seat.

"I was just coming to the freeway all of a sudden, I didn't know what it was, but a plane hit my front of my car and went and crashed," said Zub.

"I just immediately was like 'Oh my God,' and pulled to the right and stopped," she said. "Just so grateful I'm okay."

The plane, however, wound up "pretty-well banged up," with its nose bent around to the extent that the propeller was essentially facing backward, McKellar said.

The 65-year-old pilot, a San Diego resident and sole occupant of the Cessna, was conscious and alert after the crash. Paramedics took him to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego for treatment of significant but apparently non-life-threatening trauma, CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow said.

Neighbor Alfonso Arana captured video of the plane before it went down. 

"We see this plane coming in really low, we go 'God he's really really low!'" said Arana.  "Then we see him go to an angle and we see him clip a car, and then hit into the bridge. Pretty insane, right?"

Neighbor Johnny Pagano didn't see the crash, but he heard it.

"It sounded more like a trailer or like a car accident," he said. "It didn't sound like a plane crash, it wasn't that loud." 

"There were two guys helping [the pilot] he was on the floor," said Pagano. "He looked pretty banged up, no blood or anything on his body, but his face was pretty bad."

No other injuries were reported.

The cause of the crash, which forced a closure of the 1700 block of Greenfield Drive, was not immediately clear.

"We know that (the pilot) was in contact with Gillespie Field (airport) prior to the incident," McKellar said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will seek to determine the cause of the crash, according to an FAA statement.

Intoxication was not believed to have been a factor in the accident, Garrow said.

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