By Douglas W. Motley
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a single-engine Cessna 210 aircraft en route from Chino Airport to Big Bear City crash landed into a grove of trees near Cedar Glen around 3:20 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, reportedly injuring the pilot and a passenger. Air Traffic Control reportedly lost radio contact with the plane around 3:15 p.m.
San Bernardino County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike McClintock told The Alpine Mountaineer that fire crews were dispatched to the site of a plane crash in the area of Little Bear Creek and Torrey Roads, based on reports from multiple residents who witnessed a plane crash near their homes. He said crews arrived in the area with fire engines, ambulances and an all-terrain vehicle to make access to the plane crash.
“Utilizing the all-terrain response vehicle for access, firefighters found a small plane down with two persons still inside the plane,” McClintock said. “The plane came to rest in tall brush between two access roads.”
Nearby resident John Ward reported that he witnessed the aircraft, with its engine sputtering, flying about 20 feet over his neighbor’s house. The plane, he said, then made a left turn and crashed into the hillside, after which he called 9-1-1 to report the incident.
Firefighters at the crash site east of Lake Arrowhead reported approximately 50 gallons of fuel remaining in the plane. Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Cynthia Bachman said Sunday that the pilot and a passenger were both alert and talking to firefighters. She said the severity of injuries was not immediately known. Both patients were first taken to Mountains Community Hospital, then transported to Rim High School around 4:30 p.m., where an awaiting medical helicopter then airlifted them to an area hospital.
“Due to thick brush,” McClintock said, “crews had to cut a path to access the patients. Once they made access, firefighter-paramedics worked on patient care, extrication and mitigated an active fuel leak. United States Forest Service and fire crews simultaneously worked on cutting thick brush to evacuate the injured parties.”
Once the patients were extricated from the plane, McClintock said, they were loaded into awaiting County Fire ambulances to meet up with air ambulances for transport to area trauma centers. “In total, it took one hour to extricate and extract the two victims. Approximately 15 to 20 gallons of fuel leaked. A San Bernardino County Fire Department hazardous material specialist responded to assist,” McClintock said, adding that Forest Service and Cal Fire personnel also responded due to the potential threat of fire and that the scene was turned over to local enforcement for the investigation portion of the incident.
An FAA spokesperson said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board would be conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.