A celebratory flight turned deadly after a pilot died in a crash close to homes and a high school in Valley Center on Sunday.
The plane went down at around 6 p.m. near Palomar Vista Drive, east of the intersection of Cole Grade and Pauma Heights roads, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Valley Center High School is on the opposite side of the intersection.
Inside the two-person Carbon Cub EX airplane was the pilot, a 57-year-old man, and his young niece. They were on a flyby birthday and graduation celebration, according to Division Chief Jeff Chumbley with Valley Center Fire Protection District.
The pilot was trapped in the plane and died, according to the department.
"I saw that it was really low and I saw that it went side to side a little, but I didn't think anything of it," witness Lynn Magnuson told NBC 7.
She said the plane went straight down in a nosedive about 15 seconds after she saw it flying relatively low.
Chumbley told NBC 7 witnesses rushed to the aircraft and used fire extinguishers to douse flames. They also pulled the girl out.
The girl was taken to Rady Children's Hospital for further treatment, according to the SDSO. As for her condition, Chumbley said her injuries were moderate and Magnuson said she was talking when they were getting ready to transport her.
Chumbley said the pilot had been flying for 20 years and weather was likely not a factor in the deadly crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash; the National Transportation Safety Board was also notified.