Three children and their father are fighting for their lives after their small plane crashed on a golf course on Monday.
The Cranes' plane crashed Monday shortly before 1 p.m. on the Admiral Baker Golf Course, not far from Tierrasanta and the nearby Montgomery Field airport.( Mon Aug 02 22:31:04 PDT 2010 $__output )
Gregory B. Crane, who was piloting the aircraft when it went down, was still in critical condition on Tuesday at Sharp Memorial Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Alicia Cresap. Sadly, Crane's three children -- Summer, 11; Tia, 10; and Austin, 8, remain in critical condition at Rady's Children's Hospital.
A woman riding on board the aircraft in the front passenger seat died at the scene. She suffered extensive head trauma, according to the county medical examiner's office. She has yet to be identified by officials.( Mon Aug 02 14:16:00 PDT 2010 $__output )
In other developments on Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was taken to Palmdale, Calif., where it will be examined later this month. It's not unusual for the cause of a crash to take several months to determine in such cases, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Crane called the Montgomery Field control tower shortly after takeoff on Monday to report that he was unable to close a door in the aircraft and planned to return to the airport for an emergency landing. The control tower then lost contact with the plane.
"I believe the FAA has some recordings of that, which we'll be listening to," NTSB spokesman Tom Little said.
On Tuesday, Little said the door had been located about a mile from the crash and that the loss of the door could have changed the aerodynamic characteristics of the plane.
"We'll be looking at the air frame and engine specifically," Little said.
The NTSB has contracted a helicopter to go the area and extract the plane's door, which is in an inaccessible canyon area.
Officials said they are now zeroing in the door's possible contribution to the crash.
"The door did separate from the airplane," Little said. "Why? That's a major concern to us."