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'Shocked' homeowner was outside moments before Glendale plane crash

Resident is unloading groceries when Cessna plummets from sky.

May 22, 2012|By Jason Wells, jason.wells@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)


One moment, Mourad Halabi and his daughter were unloading groceries from the trunk of their Lexus. The next, there was a crash, bang, flash and an airplane next to their front yard.

“I was shocked. The noise was very loud,” Halabi said Tuesday morning as utility crews worked to replace three power poles taken down by the single-engine Cessna when it crash-landed at about 8:30 p.m. on Monday.

The plane came to rest upside-down in a front yard of the house next door to Halabi in the 1200 block of Glenwood Road.

While no homes were damaged and no one on the ground was injured, the same couldn't be said for the rear of Halabi’s Lexus, or a large oak tree out front, which he credited with keeping the plane from hitting his house.

“For a half-hour afterward, we were in shock, we were speechless,” he said.

The plane’s pilot, Jim Roth, 55, an engineer from Thousand Oaks, was able to free himself of the wreckage and speak with emergency responders at the scene. He was released from the hospital after being treated for his injuries, officials said.

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Roth's family told KTLA-TV that he has been flying since high school.

Jim Roth's wife, Staci, said it's amazing he was able to walk away with only minor injuries.

“He just said he didn't have a minute to think about it,” she told KTLA. “He just thought about me and said a quick prayer.”

Jim Roth had reported engine problems as he flew near El Monte Airport, Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Los Angeles, said Monday night.

The pilot reportedly informed air traffic controllers that he would try to make it to Van Nuys Airport, but they lost contact with the plane at about 8 p.m. when it was three miles southeast of Burbank, according to Gregor.

City officials asked residents to not touch any crash debris, but instead to call police at (818) 548-4911 so that it can be retrieved as evidence for the National Transportation Safety Board, which has jurisdiction over the investigation.

Utility crews were able to restore power to hundreds of customers by midday Tuesday. More than 2,000 customers were initially affected by the outage.

KTLA contributed reporting.

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