Flight Instructor, Student Die in Santee Plane Crash

“He was in a heavy bank and he was dropping fast," according to one witness.

A plane crashed in the driveway of a Santee home, killing the instructor and student who were flying the aircraft owned by an El Cajon-based flight school, officials confirmed.

A Piper Cherokee crashed in the driveway of a home on Paseo De Los Castillos just after 9 a.m., San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies said.

“I heard a plane sputtering real bad,” said witness Craig Lilley.

Lilley lives near the cul-de-sac where the plane crashed, south of Prospect Avenue and west of Cuyamaca Street.

Lilley looked out his bedroom window and saw a plane trying to turn around toward Gillespie Field.

“He was in a heavy bank and he was dropping fast. I could tell there was no way he was going to make it. The only question was if he was going to hit the houses back here or the field behind them,” Lilley said. 

The next thing he heard, was the crash.

“You could almost time it as he was coming down. Bang,” he said.

The aircraft struck the roof of one home and then landed on two cars. The plane finally rested upside down underneath a palm tree.

One man died at the scene and one man was transported to Sharp Hospital in critical condition, deputies said. The Santee Fire Chief confirmed late Thursday that both men had died.

On Friday, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office identified both victims killed in the crash: flight instructor and Rancho Penasquitos resident Robert C. Sarrisin, 59, and student and El Cajon resident Jeffrey Michael Johnson, 50.

No one on the ground was injured.

The plane is registered to Volar Corp. which runs the Golden State Flying Club.

Co-Owner Richard Essery wouldn’t confirm who was on the aircraft Thursday out of respect for the families.

"We are feeling bad about what happened," said Essery. "Never anything like this before. We have a really safe operation."

He said the club has not had an accident since it opened in 1968.

NBC 7 has learned the aircraft involved in Thursday's cash made an emergency landing on State Route 52 in 2013. In that incident, the plane's engine cut out and the two men aboard managed to glide the plane to a safe landing.

The FAA did not classify that as an incident or accident because it was only considered an emergency landing.

FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said the agency and the NTSB will investigate the cause of Thursday's crash.

NTSB officials said they believe the plane had no power when it landed and that those on board had not made a distress call.

NBC 7's Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh said there were no unusual wind conditions in the area at the time of the crash.

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