A retired Chicago police officer was alone in a small plane when it crashed into a Southern California house Sunday afternoon, leaving the pilot and four people in the home dead, officials said.
The pilot was identified as Antonio Pastini, 75, a retired Chicago police officer, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Cory Martino said at a Monday news conference.
The coroner is still in the process of identifying the four people who died in the Yorba Linda home, Martino said, as their conditions require additional measures — including DNA — to reach official identifications.
The Cessna 414A crashed about 10 minutes after taking off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator Maja Smith said.
Residents in the area began to panic around 1:45 p.m., when the small plane appeared to break apart midair, scattering debris across the neighborhood, authorities said.
Witnesses saw the airplane come out of a cloud at a high speed before the tail and the wings broke off, officials said Monday. Witnesses then saw smoke before a piece of the aircraft struck the home in a fiery crash.
Pastini was a commercial pilot, she said.
The debris of the crash covered about four blocks, Smith said.
Two people suffered unspecified injuries, officials said.
“It sounded like something exploded. It shook our house,” Yorba Linda resident John Wolbart told The Associated Press.
Yorba Linda is located about 36 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Clint Langford, a neighbor, recalled hearing a low rumbling sound that got louder and louder right before the crash.
“It was scary,” Langford told the AP. “And then all of a sudden — boom. It shook the house.”