In Santee, a plane crashed near Prospect and Cuyamaca just before 7 a.m. according to Heartland Fire and Rescue officials.
Two people died in the crash Chief Richard Smith with the Santee Fire Department said. One dog died in the crash. A second dog was injured.
The location of the crash is south of State Route 52, less than a mile northwest of Gillespie Field.
A high school student driving nearby said she noticed a plane coming in the wrong way "looked weird."
“It looked like it was coming right at us,” Alexis Hill said. “It looked like it was going to come down on us so we pulled over.”
She and her brother Zachary Hill didn’t hesitate to try and help those on the plane.
“It was really frightening,” Zachary said. “The whole front of the plane is destroyed. It’s really frightening.”
Alexis said she turned off the car and ran to help.
“You don’t want to walk away from something like that or just stand there,” she explained.
“If anyone ever needs help and you’re the only one there, you don’t want to walk away from something like that,” Alexis said.
The plane had just taken off from Gillespie Field and was heading west when it turned around, lost power and landed in a nearby construction yard, Smith said.
No one on the ground was injured.
Witnesses said people on the ground reported hearing the plane's engine throttle before the crash, Smith said.
The chief said crews were working to contain a fuel spill in the dirt near the wreckage.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there have been 21 aviation-related accidents and collisions involving planes that were taking off from, or attempting to land at, Gillespie Field, in the past ten years.
Four of those incidents resulted in a total of seven fatalities. The other accidents and collisions resulted in significant or minor injuries, no injuries, and, in most cases, physical damage to the aircraft.
NTSB accident reports also reveal that a number of the incidents involved student pilots and instructors.
One of the deadliest aviation collisions near Gillespie Field happened in February, 2006, when two small planes collided over a residential area near Grossmont College. That crash killed the pilots, and a student pilot, and showered debris on homes and a park.