John King, 62, identified as pilot killed in Sylmar plane crash

On Friday, authorities identified the pilot of a small plane who died when the plane crashed along the westbound 210 Freeway in the Sylmar area.

John King, 62, died at the scene of the crash, which occurred around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the coroner’s office. King was the only person on the plane, the FAA’s Eva Lee Ngai said.

Records revealed that the plane was built in 1965, with a valid flight certificate.

The aircraft landed among the trees on an embankment along the highway and did not strike any vehicles. The crash ignited no flames and narrowly avoided a cluster of power lines along that side of the road.

“Luckily it wasn’t on the 210 freeway because obviously things would have been much worse,” Los Angeles Police Department Capt. James Townsend said.

“We have not gotten any information to tell us that the power lines were involved in the plane crash,” LAFD Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond said. “There was no fire, there was a small fuel leak which was contained by the means of fire.”

He continued to note that crews created a small berm at the immediate location of the leak to prevent it from sinking onto the highway.

The crash happened about four miles north of Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, where it departed at 12:20 p.m., crashing eight minutes later.

Residents have called for the airport to be closed several times in the past, and most recently in January after a pilot crashed into area train tracks, where he was barely rescued before his plane was pulled down hit by an oncoming train.

Pacoima Beautiful is a group that hopes to shut down the airport. Teodora Reyes, one of many locals that make up the nonprofit, spoke to CBS reporters on Wednesday night, where she detailed that since 2020, 75 crashes have been linked to Whiteman Airport. , according to the NTSB.

Adding the three most recent crashes since 2020 brings that total to 78.

“The concern is for the safety of the most affected members,” Reyes said, “who are dealing with noise pollution and fear of a plane hitting their home in the middle of the night.”

“I just saw this Skymaster fall out of the sky over there,” an air traffic controller said on the airport radio transmission after the crash. “It was at 9 p.m. [feet], then just quickly descended. At first I thought it was a bird, but it was actually him coming down.”

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez released a statement following Wednesday night’s crash, which read:

“Tragically another life cut short by a plane crash, and my sincere condolences to the family of the victim. Pending confirmation of his departure, the frequency of these incidents should warrant an immediate closure and investigation into private operations at Whiteman Airport out of respect for the lives of the victims, their families and our community.”

Crews at the scene planned to move the plane from the embankment into an empty field adjacent to the crash site using a crane, where NTSB and FAA investigators will work to determine the cause.

Witnesses at the scene detailed the times during and after the accident.

“All of a sudden you heard like that ‘shh…BOOM’,” said a woman who rushed to where the plane crashed. “When we went there, we didn’t see any smoke. Nothing was on fire.”

Another man who worked at a group home a few hundred yards from the crash site also ran to the site.

“We heard the boom and the boss said, ‘There’s a plane crash, see if you can help,'” he told CBS reporters. “So I ran over there and jumped the fence. There was nothing we could do.”

The two westbound lanes of Highway 210 closest to the crash site were closed while investigators monitored the scene.

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