SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — One person was killed and another injured when a small private plane crashed Sunday morning in a meadow just south of the Lake Tahoe Airport, authorities said.
El Dorado County sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell said it was unclear whether the crash occurred as the single-engine Piper aircraft was taking off or landing.
The names of the occupants were not immediately released. The male pilot was pronounced dead at the scene, while a female passenger was flown to a Reno hospital in an unknown condition, authorities said.
Authorities said it also was unclear whether mechanical problems or high winds contributed to the crash.
Several witnesses at an outdoor flea market across the street from the meadow said the plane came in low over homes before crashing into trees.
Some said it appeared the pilot had tried to steer the plane into the meadow away from the flea market, which was filled with shoppers and vendors.
“If he had kept on going and not crashed where he did, he would have come in straight into the market,” witness Sheila Harmon told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
While licensed pilot Gary Aldridge didn’t see the plane go down, he said he did hear the engine “sputtering” in distress before it crashed. “There was something wrong with it,” he told the Tribune.
The cause of the 9:45 a.m. accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the sheriff’s coroner’s unit.