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Plane Crashes Into Watsonville Medical Office, 2 Dead

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Scene from a fatal small plane crash in Watsonville on July 7, 2011. (CBS)

Scene from a fatal small plane crash in Watsonville on July 7, 2011. (CBS)

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WATSONVILLE (CBS / AP) — Two people were killed when a small plane crashed into a medical office building in Watsonville Thursday evening, according to an FAA spokesman and a Watsonville Community Hospital spokeswoman.

Watsonville Deputy Police Chief Rudy Escalante said the single-engine plane crashed into a parking lot in front of the medical office building and skidded about 50 to 75 yards before crashing into the building.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the plane had just taken off from nearby Watsonville Municipal Airport when it crashed at around 7:30 p.m. Lunsford said there were no injuries or fatalities on the ground.

KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:

Lunsford said the aircraft was registered in Santa Cruz.

The hospital campus is adjacent to the Watsonville Municipal Airport. Hospital spokeswoman Cindy Weigelt said that the Watsonville Community Hospital building is separate from the medical office building and was not affected by the crash.

Witnesses say the plane took a nose dive and landed partially into the first floor of the building.

Witness Thomas Arnold was in the parking lot next to the Watsonville Community Hospital’s administration building when he heard the plane overhead. He told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that the plane came careening sideways across the parking lot about 15 feet above his head.

“I saw two faces and two big sets of eyes,” said the 34-year-old Arnold, whose fiancee was in labor inside the hospital.

Witness George Benson told the Sentinel that he watched the plane take off and saw the pilot appear to attempt to clear a line of fog.

“He was heading toward the coast and tried to climb,” Benson said. “From the time he took off he was going too steep, too slow.”

A dispatcher with the Watsonville Fire Department said no evacuations have been ordered from the hospital.

Weigelt said that the fire department responded immediately and extinguished a fire related to the crash.

All areas of the hospital remain operational, including the emergency room, according to Weigelt, and she said that the hospital was continuing to focus on the care of its patients.

All hospital patients, employees and visitors are safe, Weigelt said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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