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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 11:19 pm | Fair 44º


Small Plane Makes Crash-Landing on Highway 101

Pilot attempts freeway landing after running out of gas; no serious injuries in collision with three vehicles

A small plane ran out of gas and crash-landed on southbound Highway 101 south of Patterson Avenue on Sunday morning. There were no injuries in the accident, but three vehicles collided with the aircraft.

According to California Highway Patrol spokesman James Richards, the plane, a 1965 Piper Comanche 260 flown by Kris Michel, 42, of Temecula, ran out of gas on the way to the Santa Barbara Airport.

Michel and his wife, Alison, were flying from Temecula when their plane lost power about two miles from the airport. Michel switched gas tanks, but he was unable to regain power, Richards said. A Mayday call was made and Michel said he would need to make an emergency landing on the northbound freeway. CHP units quickly responded but had no time to make any attempt to clear the freeway, Richards said.

As Michel descended about 10:35 a.m., he was unable to maintain control of the plane and it veered into oncoming southbound traffic, Richards said. While in the air, CHP officers said, the plane’s tail section clipped a Chevy Suburban driven by Angel Reyes, 36, of Santa Barbara. As it touched down it was struck by a Honda Accord driven by Samjay Mitter, 44, of Oxnard. The impact spun the plane around and a Volkswagen Golf driven by Marlene Tutogi, 33, of Oxnard, ran under the aircraft’s tail.

A passenger in the Suburban — Francisco Cermeno, 18, of Santa Barbara — was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital as a precaution. He was later released.

Mitter, Reyes, Tutogi and the passengers in Tutogi’s car — her young daughter, who was in a child safety seat, and her mother, Martha Sauceda, 55, of Santa Maria — were not injured.

In addition to the CHP, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and county fire personnel quickly responded to the scene.

Amy Mallet, senior director of the Goleta Valley Senior Center, told Noozhawk about 10:45 a.m. that the plane landed on top of a white vehicle and that four vehicles appeared to be involved in the crash. According to Mallet, no one appeared to be badly hurt.

Noozhawk contributor Melissa Marsted was driving to UCSB for Sunday’s youth soccer finals and was caught in the northbound traffic backup from the crash. She described the scene as having “the most fire engines I have ever seen.”

Click here for a Planet Santa Barbara video of the accident.

Authorities closed the southbound Patterson onramp, and southbound Highway 101 was reduced to one lane as tow trucks began to clear the wreckage. Northbound 101 was open, but was stop-and-go past the accident scene. Motorists were advised to use Cathedral Oaks Road or Hollister Avenue as alternate routes. By noon Sunday, all lanes and onramps were reopened to traffic.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, officials said Sunday night.

Noozhawk readers are invited to submit their photos to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Staff writer Giana Magnoli contributed to this report and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) contributed to this report. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk.

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