VISALIA, Calif .– At least four people have died after a plane crashed near a central California airport on Saturday, authorities said.
Emergency crews responded after receiving a call just after 6:30 p.m. indicating that a small plane had broken down near the airport in Visalia, California. Detectives and deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were the first on the scene and stayed there until Sunday until federal theft officials arrived.
The plane left Visalia Municipal Airport at 6:37 p.m., Sgt. said Jesse Cox. Approximately four minutes elapsed between takeoff and the first call to 911. From flight tracking applications, it appears that the pilot attempted to return to the airport shortly after takeoff.
It took some time for first responders to locate the wreckage due to dense fog in the area. Photos of the wreckage show a crumpled cabin and debris in front of an orchard, near a water collection facility.
“It was dark. Back then it was a lot foggy,” Cox said. “We moved personnel around the area until we found it (the wreckage).”
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MPs said ambulances and firefighters were at the scene shortly after the crash. Ambulances did not transport any of the victims.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB arrived on Sunday.
A plane with tail number N7933M left Visalia airport at 6:37 p.m., according to flight records. The 1966 Beech aircraft is registered to David Chelini of Sacramento, according to a publicly searchable FAA database.
The detectives did not identify any victims.
Details surrounding the crash will have to wait for transportation safety officials to complete their investigation, which could take weeks.