John Wayne Airport Plane Crash on the 405 Freeway

A  plane has crashed on the southbound 405 Freeway on approach to runway 20R at John Wayne Airport on Friday morning, the crash sent smoke billowing above Orange County and forcing the closure of the freeway in both directions.

It’s not clear what caused the plane to crash.

A preliminary statement from a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman indicated a Cessna 310 “crashed under unknown circumstances” short of Runway 20R as the aircraft was inbound to John Wayne Airport. The plane had taken off from John Wayne, declared an emergency shortly thereafter and was trying to return when the crash occurred.

In a online recording of air traffic control radio communications, the pilot can be heard crying “Mayday, Mayday,” explaining that they are trying to get more altitude and had “lost the right engine.”

The plane’s wreckage was on the southbound freeway near the MacArthur Boulevard exit, on the path that aircraft follow when landing at the airport.

Video recorded from a vehicle on the freeway showed black smoke billowing from the wreckage, with flames rising in the area of the center divider. Debris was all over the freeway, and bystanders could be seen stopping to help two people, at least one of whom was lying on the freeway pavement.

Kurtz indicated no other vehicles on the freeway were struck, but an Uber driver said his pickup truck was hit.

The plane’s wreckage will likely not be moved until is can be examined by federal investigators, he said.

“Right now this aircraft’s home is going to be here on the southbound 405 … for a little while,” Kurtz said.

The investigation means likely severe traffic congestions in the area in the lead-up to the three-day Fourth of July holiday weekend.

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