Riverside Plane Crash Takes Four Lives

A Riverside plane crash has taken the lives of four people when a Cessna T310Q crashed in a neighborhood of the California community. The plane had taken five people to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim to watch a cheerleading competition and was en route back home to San Jose on February 27 when the tragedy occurred. Accidents like the Riverside crash highlight the devastation that can be caused by plane crashes, and are a reminder that even small plane crashes can have tragic consequences.

Plane Crashed Shortly After Takeoff 

The plane, which was carrying five people including the pilot, had just taken off from Riverside airport on its way to San Jose when it crashed. According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot, 83-year-old Nouri Hijazi, had no difficulty starting the right engine of the plane, but took repeated tries to start the left engine.

The report also states that the pilot required the air traffic controller to provide detailed instructions to guide takeoff.

"After an uneventful runway departure, the airplane began a left turn as it entered the clouds," the NTSB notes. "A portion of the airplane's final moments of flight were captured by a surveillance video, which showed the airplane descend towards the ground in a slight left wing low attitude."

Shortly after that, the NTSB reports, the plane disappeared behind a residence.

Delmy Pennington, one of the owners of a cafĂ© at the airport, told the Los Angeles Times the plane delayed its departure due to heavy rain, and when it did take off, the back of the plane shook as it lifted off. 

One home was destroyed in the Riverside plane crash and several others were damaged.

Four Dead in Riverside Plane Crash 

Only one of the passengers on the Cessna T310Q survived the plane crash. Among those killed:

  •          Nouri Hijazi, the 83-year-old pilot of the plane
  •          Dana Hijazi, the 67-year-old wife of Nouri
  •          Adine Ferales, a 22-year-old family friend
  •          Joanne Stacey Pierce, the 46-year-old daughter of Dana Hijzai

The group had been in Anaheim to see Pierce's daughter, Brooke, compete in a cheerleading competition. Brooke had separate transportation home and was not on the plane when it crashed.

Pierce was reportedly ejected from the plane and was rescued through a bedroom window by firefighters. She initially survived the crash and was taken to hospital with burns to more than 90 percent of her body. Despite having both legs amputated in an attempt to save her life, Pierce died a week after the plane crash.

"The burns were too much," said Pierce's husband, Richard. "We are devastated."

Speaking with CBS News, Richard Pierce said he had pleaded with his wife not to fly home on the private plane.

"All day I told my wife, 'Please take a commercial flight home'," Pierce said. "And she said, 'No we'll be fine'."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the costs of funerals for the victims of the Riverside plane crash.

One person, Sylvia Ferales, has survived the plane crash. Sylvia was a family friend to the Hijazi family and mother to Adine, who died in the crash. Sylvia was being treated for airway burns.

Fuselage Scattered Around Neighborhood

The scene of the crash was approximately one nautical mile northeast of Riverside Municipal Airport, according to the NTSB. A section of the plane's airframe was found on the roof of a house, while the main wreckage—including the plane's cabin, engines, and portions of the wings—were found in a bedroom of a house around 100 feet beyond the initial impact point. Wing fragments were also found on the lawn of a house around 75 feet away from the main wreckage.

Although no one on the ground was injured when the plane crashed into the homes, according to one poster on the GoFundMe page, two dogs and a cat in one of the homes affected by the plane crash also died.

NTSB to Investigate Plane Crash

With the investigation into the Riverside plane crash still in its early stages, the NTSB has not commented on what may have caused the plane to crash. A full report, including comments on the cause of the crash, could be more than a year away as investigators look into all the factors that may have led up to the tragedy.

"All aircraft accidents are the result of more than one thing," said Tom Anthony, director of aviation and safety security at USC. He went on to note that in more than 60 percent of aircraft accidents, human error is one of the causes. Among factors that have been speculated to have been involved in the accident are engine failure, weather, and a broken fuel line. Other factors that will be investigated are the plane's maintenance records and how heavy the plane was at takeoff.

One report indicates the pilot was an airline transport pilot and was also a certified flight instructor. He had reportedly passed a medical exam in October 2016. The plane he was flying was built in 1974, but experts are not concerned about the age of the plane.