A two-passenger private airplane crashed in the Pacific on Tuesday just east of the Malibu Pier. The two passengers, unidentified middle-age males, sustained moderate head and chest injuries, according to Los Angeles Fire Department officials.
At 5:16 p.m., witnesses said they saw the plane flying unusually low, lose control and then nosedive into the ocean.
"I don't think there's any way that plane could come out of the dive," Caine Evans said he thought to himself while watching the plane from the roof of Pacific Coast Greens, where he is a manager.
The Sky Arrow 600 Sport, a light sport one-engine aircraft, crashed about 50 yards out at sea. The plane had flown from Santa Monica, but its destination is unknown.
Top: Photo Courtesy Juan Cruz
Bottom: Photo by Tyler J. Bourke
A patron on the Malibu Pier saw the crash and alerted Baywatch lifeguards nearby, said Paul Hartwell, Los Angeles County Fire Department Public Information Officer.
According to Juan Cruz, manager of Malibu's D'Amore's Pizza, two men from toy manufacturing company Jakks Pacific Inc. ran across the street after they saw the crash from their ocean-view office. He said they swam in the water in their work clothes to rescue the two passengers from the wreck before lifeguards arrived.
A Los Angeles County Sherriff officer who reported to the scene could not confirm whether the two men had rescued the victims.
Baywatch lifeguards drove the rescued men in a boat to the end of the pier where ambulances were waiting. Paramedics then whisked the men away to Pepperdine's Alumni Park where, at approximately 6:15, a helicopter flew them to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Meanwhile, local citizens who had run across PCH after witnessing the crash helped fire and rescue officials pull the plane out of the water by tugging a rope.
Cruz said he was happy to help and that the men from Jakks Pacific were the real heroes. Considering the damage to the plane, he was surprised the two men had survived.
According to a report by KCAL 9, Los Angeles County rescue officials said it was a miracle the two men had escaped without severe injuries. They said the men were conscious and talking while bobbing in the water right after the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board officials have yet to identify a cause for the accident. Investigators arrived at the scene at approximately 8:00 p.m.
Patrick H. Jones, an air safety investigator, said he is looking for clues to explain the crash. He said the aircraft is in multiple pieces on the beach, but that damage to the plane was likely the result of the accident.
While he has heard eye witness reports of the plane making impact at an almost ninety degree angle to the water, he said he will rely on his own investigation.
"Airplane accidents as a general rule are not something people see every day, and there's a lot of human factors," Jones said.
Jones noted that most airplane accidents, like this one, do not involve fatalities. He said there are approximately 200 aircraft related fatalities per year, as opposed to 40,000 automobile related fatalities.
National Transportation Safety Board will issue a preliminary report regarding the accident in five days.