Plane heading for Phoenix crashes in Oxnard, California, killing pilot

Brian J. Varela

A small plane crashed into a strawberry field in North Oxnard on Friday morning, killing the pilot.

The device then burst into flames, sending a plume of black smoke near Highway 101.

The crash was reported around 8 a.m. in a field on the north side of the 101 east of Del Norte Boulevard, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. The site is west of Camarillo Airport, where the plane took off shortly before the crash.

No other victims were found during a ground and helicopter search, firefighters said. Two urban search and rescue dogs also searched the grounds.

Firefighters reported a widely scattered debris field and said the plane was engulfed in flames when they arrived.

Andy VanSciver, a Ventura County firefighter and spokesman, confirmed that one person was on board and died in the crash. VanSciver said he could not provide further details of the death.

The plane clipped a building on the south side of Highway 101 before crashing into terrain, he said. The crews then found debris from the aircraft on the roof.

Capt. Brian McGrath, another agency spokesman, said the Oxnard Fire Department was the lead agency and county firefighters were called in to help. The Federal Aviation Administration has also been contacted to investigate.

Information from FlightAware said the single-engine, four-seat fixed-wing craft took off from Camarillo Airport at 7:59 a.m., bound for Phoenix Deer Valley Airport. The aircraft was listed as an Arizona-registered Mooney M-20 Turbo.

Sean Herder, operations supervisor for the Ventura County Airports Department, confirmed the pilot’s departure information. He had landed in Camarillo Thursday morning from Big Bear, Herder said, adding he was unaware of any distress calls prior to Friday’s crash.

The plane clipped a commercial building in the 3500 block of Camino Avenue near Trabajo Drive, Oxnard Fire Battalion Chief Steve McNaughten said. The town of Oxnard has labeled the building yellow, he said. The extent of the damage was not immediately known. The building was occupied at the time, but no injuries were reported, McNaughten said.

The crash site was on private property and cordoned off by emergency personnel Friday morning. Small plumes of smoke from the plane could be seen a quarter of a mile away.

The incident pushed traffic back on Route 101 during the morning rush hour with one northbound lane closed.

This story can be updated.

— Editors Cheri Carlson and Jeremy Childs contributed to this story.

Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at [email protected] or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @BrianVarela805.

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