Three people aboard a small plane were killed Sunday when it crashed in the Santa Ana mountains, off the Ortega Highway near Lake Elsinore.
Firefighters were dispatched at 9:22 a.m. to an area near the Lookout Roadhouse restaurant, in the 32100 block of Ortega Highway, in response to a small fire. The crash site was about 35 miles east of Santa Ana, near where Orange, San Diego and Riverside County converge in rugged mountains just north of Camp Pendleton.
The fire was sparked by a Piper PA28 Cherokee airplane, which crashed into a cliff. Its tail number would not be released until relatives of the three people were notified, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.
The Riverside County Fire Department confirmed the fatalities but had not officially identified the victims as of late Sunday.
Shelly McElroy said in a phone interview that one of the people in the plane was her nephew, Jacob Griffiths, a 32-year-old Irvine resident. She said Griffiths’ father-in-law and uncle were also on the plane, but she didn’t know their names.
“We kind of lost the whole family,” said McElroy, who lives in Riverside.