Video captures the moment small plane crash-lands onto California freeway, erupts in flames

·2 min read

A small plane crash-landed on a Southern California freeway Tuesday, hitting a truck before breaking apart and erupting in flames.

Dramatic video showed the moment the single-engine Piper PA-32 plane lowered from the sky onto the eastbound lanes of State Route 91 near Lincoln Avenue in Corona around 12:30 p.m. local time.

The plane appeared to bounce on the roadway upon impact and erupted in flames, releasing plumes of thick, black smoke.

Two people on the plane were able to safely exit the wreck, the Corona Fire Department said. Three people traveling in the truck hit by the aircraft were also unharmed, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Video captured firefighters with the Corona Fire Department dousing the burning aircraft with water.

Image: (Watchara Phomicinda / AP)
Image: (Watchara Phomicinda / AP)

The pilot, Andrew Cho, said he took off from the nearby Corona Municipal Airport for a short trip earlier in the day. When he flew back to the airport, his plane suddenly lost power and he had to find a spot on the highway to set the aircraft down.

"My biggest fear was hitting other cars," he told NBC Los Angeles. "I saw enough of a gap there and I just headed for the gap."

Cho managed to avoid most cars on the freeway.

Armando Ramirez’s Toyota Tundra wasn't one of them. He told the news station that he was on his way to visit family members when he felt the plane slam into his truck. Ramirez said he felt grateful he wasn’t killed.

Witness Jerry Saika saw the heart-stopping moment the plane came down and raced to help out at the scene.

“All I know is that it came down, I just came out rushing from my car to make sure he was OK,” he said.

California Highway Patrol Capt. Levi Miller praised the safe landing, noting the pilot helped prevent a potentially "bad situation" involving multiple vehicles.

"Absolutely very fortunate today, the traffic was light and the pilot has appeared to made some good landing navigation and avoided a very bad tragedy," he said.

NBC News has reached out to the California Highway Patrol for more information on the incident, which is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.