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Crews search for victims in plane crash in Santa Monica Mountains

April 29, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein, Robert J. Lopez and Richard Winton
  • Wreckage of plane crash in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Wreckage of plane crash in the Santa Monica Mountains. (KTLA-TV Channel 5 )

Firefighters were searching for victims Monday afternoon in rugged terrain in the Santa Monica Mountains after a plane crashed in the area.

The crash, which followed a forced landing of a separate aircraft in Westlake Village earlier Monday, sparked a small brush fire as a Los Angeles County Fire Department camp crew scoured the area near Mulholland Drive and Las Virgenes Road, officials said.

"We're making a search-and-rescue effort right now to determine if there are any survivors," Inspector Quvondo Johnson told The Times.

Nearby Las Virgenes Road was shut down shortly before 4 p.m. near Piuma Road after a tree toppled onto a power line, the California Highway Patrol said. It was not immediately clear if the downed tree was related to the airplane crash.

The brush fire, which charred about an acre in the parched area, was quickly extinguished, officials said. 

Earlier, a Cessna made a belly landing at 2:15 p.m. near the third hole of the Westlake Golf Course. County fire officials and witnesses said the landing gear was still up when it happened.

One person complained of back pain and was taken to a hospital.

Aaron Jesse, 47, said he and some friends had left work early Monday to fit in an afternoon round of golf when the small plane came in silently and hit the ground with a thud.

"Finally being a bad golfer paid off," Jesse said. "I hit it in the trees to the right. They landed 50 feet to the left of us in the center of the fairway. All we heard was a thud and then he made a gentle bounce and slid down the center of the fairway, veering to the left."

Jesse said the plane clipped a tree, which spun the aircraft around 180 degrees. Jesse marveled that the pilot seemed to land gently -- only taking out four inches of grass and dirt.

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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