Two passengers were injured in a small plane crash Thursday afternoon in Kearny Mesa.
The plane went down at around 4:30 p.m. near 8600 Balboa Avenue, east of Kearny Villa Road and just north of the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, according to the San Diego Police Department.
A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesperson said two passengers were rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital.
The plane had just taken off from the airport and tried to make an emergency landing, but couldn't reach the runway, according to SDFD Battalion Chief Dan Eddy.
The plane was headed for the Kyocera building on Balboa Avenue, but the pilot was able to steer clear of the structure and crash-land in the parking lot behind it, Eddy said. In the back of the building near where the plane came to rest, there are high voltage areas, fuel cell areas, and hazardous materials, according to Eddy, which could have caused major damage had they been hit.
Eddy also applauded his crew for extricating the passengers in less than 10 minutes.
“I was a proud chief, I’ll say that much," he said.
Jasmine Linden, 22, works as a temperature scanner at the Kyocera building. She and others hear the constant humming of aircraft overhead every day, but what she heard Thursday afternoon while she was in the employee cafeteria wasn't normal.
"A really intense loud sound," Linden described.
She ran outside, and she and another man were the first to check on the pilot and passenger.
"My first thought was, 'Oh my God, we have to get these guys out.' I didn't want the plane to catch on fire and be an even bigger accident," Linden said.
By Linden's account, the passenger seemed to have a broken nose, among other injuries, and the pilot was bloody and unconscious in the cockpit. He quickly regained consciousness, Linden said.
"He was able to move and feel the rest of his extremities so we were able to kind of help him get out," she said.
"I feel better now that I helped him. I was obviously shaken up after the fact. I am glad I was able to do something," Linden added.
Eddy was unable to specify any injuries suffered by the two men, but said the chief concern was internal injuries that may not be discovered until at the hospital.
A hazmat crew was on scene cleaning up fuel spilled from the plane.
The plane was a single-engine Great Lakes 2T-1A-2, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the crash. Investigators could not confirm whether the registered owner was piloting during the crash.
NBC 7 learned that the pilot and passenger are both experienced pilots. Friends said the pilot was still at Sharp Memorial Friday after having surgery on his right foot, which has multiple fractures.
The passenger was Chris Stoddard, a contestant in the race for the 53rd District back in March. He is a Marine veteran and pilot who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I'm doing much better than the other pilot, he’s really my primary concern right now,” said Stoddard by phone. The pilot is Erich Moulder, who according to a friend, is an Air Force Academy graduate, became a naval aviator, and now flies commercially.
“He’s smart, a very good pilot and I’m lucky he was with me. "It could have been worse if he wasn’t there,” said Stoddard.
No other information was available.
Check back for more information on this developing story.