2 small planes collide in Santa Cruz County, fatalities reported

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KRON) — Two small private planes were involved in a mid-air collision around 3 p.m. Thursday in south Santa Cruz County, a law enforcement official told KRON4.

Three people were onboard the planes and no one survived, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. A dog was also killed. The victims’ names were not released.

The planes collided mid-air above Watsonville Municipal Airport, crashed to the ground, and one plane ignited in flames, according to witnesses and investigators.

According to a tweet from the City of Watsonville, the two pilots were attempting to land just before their aircrafts collided. The small airport does not have an air traffic control tower, and pilots are not required to communicate with each other over the radio before landing, an NTSB spokesman said.

After the mid-air collision, one plane crashed into one of the airport’s hangar buildings. A witness sent video to KRON4 showing flames burning and black smoke rising from the wreckage.

The second plane crashed in a field at the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and Calabasas Road next a neighborhood.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement to KRON4 stating, “A single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340 collided while the pilots were on their final approaches to Watsonville Municipal Airport. One person was on board the Cessna 152 and two people were on board the Cessna 340.”

Investigators survey one of the plane crash scenes on Aug. 18, 2022 in Watsonville. (Image by AIO FILMZ)

A sheriff’s coroner arrived at the crash scenes. No one on the ground was injured, according to the FAA.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what led up to and caused the accident. Firefighters, Watsonville Police Department officers, and California Highway Patrol officers are also on scene.