A small plane went down near the Jamul Casino on Thursday, according to Cal Fire San Diego.
The single-engine private plane could be seen in a field of dry brush dozens of feet from the casino off state Route 94. Firefighters responded to the scene at about 10 a.m.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, after taking off from Gillespie Field the pilot reported engine failure. Officials later reported the plane was a Zodiac CH 601.
Cal Fire tweeted that the pilot suffered moderate injuries and would be transported by ambulance to a local hospital but a spokesperson for the agency on scene confirmed the pilot was not hurt or in need of transport.
The Cal Fire spokesperson said the incident could have been much worse if the plane struck the casino.
Tracie Nelson, who manages the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve where the plane landed, saw the plane flying low to the ground but thought nothing of it until she was called to respond.
She spoke to the pilot who told her the plane stalled.
"He doesn’t really know [what happened] but it stalled and wouldn’t go back on," Nelson said. "He seems amazingly unshaken. He is one lucky guy."
Pilot Jim Scheerer who was on the ground when he heard the plane crash rushed to the scene thinking it was a friend's plane, but it wasn't.
"When the engine quits you go through exactly what he did. And that is you check your fuel, right tank on, left tank on, whatever, check the magnitos, the ignition switch. You then try to start it with the starter and so on and so forth. He went through all the processes," said Scherrer.
Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will handle the investigation which, according to a spokesperson could take up to a year.