San Diego plane makes emergency landing on California highway

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The small plane developed mechanical problems shortly after take-off causing it to land Interstate 5 in San Diego.

A small plane made an emergency landing on a San Diego highway, injuring a few motorists — including a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary — as it clipped vehicles before the pilot and his passenger walked away unscathed.

The single-engine Piper PA-32 developed mechanical problems after taking off from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport on Tuesday.

“We’re gonna have to land on a race track. We’re having an emergency,” the pilot told air traffic control, according to a recording by LiveATC.  

But the plane instead went down in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Del Mar shortly after noon, clipping several vehicles before it came to rest partially on the center divider, KSWB-TV reported.

The small plane developed mechanical problems shortly after take-off causing it to land Interstate 5 in San Diego.
The small plane developed mechanical problems shortly after take-off, forcing it to land Interstate 5 in San Diego.
PETER ENGEL via REUTERS

“It’s very rare to see a plane on the freeway, but you know you always have to be aware,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Salvador Castro said. “That’s why we tell people when they’re driving, be aware of your surroundings.”

Dane and Sarah Tribett of Austin, Texas, were in town to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary and on their way to the beach when the plane struck their Kia sedan.

“We were just driving down the freeway, just talking, when all of a sudden we just felt something huge hit us and glass shattered everywhere,” Sarah told KSWB-TV.

The single-engine Piper PA-32 landed right on top of a couple from Texas celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary.
The single-engine Piper PA-32 landed right on top of a couple from Texas celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary.
PETER ENGEL via REUTERS

“All of sudden, we just see the plane in front of us. We were scared out of our minds,” she said.

The couple, along with people in other vehicles clipped by the plane, escaped serious injury. The pilot and his passenger were unhurt, officials said.

“People that were driving behind us drove by us after and let us know that it literally landed on top of our car,” Sarah said. “Fuel all over the back of our back seat. All of my clothes are soaked and there’s glass everywhere.”

According to sources, no one was injured during the emergency landing, however, several cars were clipped by the plane.
According to sources, no one was injured during the emergency landing, however, several cars were clipped by the plane.
PETER ENGEL via Reuters

She said the incident seemed unreal, especially on their anniversary.

“It’s definitely a story to tell our families,” Sarah said.

Part of the plane’s right wing broke off and became lodged in the back of an SUV.

The plane was later placed on a flatbed truck and taken to Montgomery Field to be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, KSWB reported

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