SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (KPIX 5) — A small plane that crashed at South Lake Tahoe, killing a Palo Alto man and injuring his wife, lost altitude shortly after takeoff, officials said Tuesday.

The pilot of the plane, 66-year-old Steven Lefton, died on impact when the single-engine Mooney M20 crashed in a wooded area Monday after taking off from the South Lake Tahoe Airport.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies said his wife, 67-year-old Karen Lefton, remained hospitalized Tuesday with moderate injuries.

Lt. Pete Van Arnum said several witnesses indicated the plane quickly lost altitude before crashing into several large pine trees and flipping over. It landing upside down on U.S. forestland.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the cause of the crash.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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