4 dead after single-engine plane crashes near California airport, authorities say

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VISALIA, Calif. — At least four people are dead after a plane crashed near an airport in central California on Saturday, authorities said.

Emergency crews responded after receiving a call just after 6:30 p.m. that a small plane was down near the airport in Visalia, California. Detectives and deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were first on the scene and remained there through Sunday until federal flight officials arrived.

The plane left Visalia Municipal Airport at 6:37 p.m., Sgt. Jesse Cox said. Around four minutes elapsed between takeoff and the first 911 call. Based on flight tracking apps, it appears the pilot tried to return to the airport shortly after takeoff.

It took first responders some time to locate the wreckage due to the dense fog in the area. Photos of the wreckage show a crumpled cabin and debris in front of an orchard, near a water reclamation facility.

“It was dark. At the time, it was much foggier,” Cox said. “We circulated the area with personnel until we found it (the wreckage).”

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4 dead after single-engine plane crashes near California airport, authorities say

Deputies said ambulances and firefighters were at the scene shortly after the crash. Ambulances didn’t transport any of the victims.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB arrived Sunday.

A plane with the tail number N7933M left the Visalia airport at 6:37 p.m., according to flight records. The 1966 Beech plane is registered to David Chelini out of Sacramento, according to a publicly searchable FAA database.

Detectives have not identified any victims.

Details surrounding the crash will have to wait until transportation safety officials complete their investigation, which could take weeks.

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