Officials reported that the accident happened just before 3 p.m. local time at Watsonville Municipal Airport in Watsonville, a rural region about 50 miles south of San Jose.
According to a post on social media by the mayor of Watsonville, the two aircraft were attempting to land when they collided. It stated, “There have been numerous fatalities reported.”
The Federal Aviation Administration stated in a statement that a single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340 “collided when the pilots were on their final approaches.”
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The agency confirmed that there were three persons on board the aircraft—one in the Cessna 152 and two in the Cessna 340—but it did not give an update on their conditions. Nobody on the ground was known to have been hurt, it said.
In a later tweet, the city expressed its “extreme sadness” at learning of the horrible incident that claimed numerous lives.
“The City of Watsonville sends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who passed,” it added.
“We are grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss,” Watsonville Mayor Ari Parker said. “I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.”
According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, they worked with Watsonville Police to secure the scene after responding to an aircraft collision on Aviation Way close to the airport.
“Two aircraft collided this afternoon and came to rest at and close to the Watsonville airport. Currently, there have been numerous fatalities, “said Lt. Patrick Dimick. “Multiple people have died. We have just secured the airport in preparation for the NTSB and FAA’s arrival and start of their inquiry, so we are unable to confirm anything else at this time.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are looking into the matter.