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Neighbors react after pilot is killed in plane crash at Orcutt school

plane crash in orcutt
Patricia Martellotti/KEYT
A plane went down at Ralph Dunlap Elementary School in Orcutt Wednesday killing the pilot.
plane crash in orcutt 2
Patricia Martellotti/KEYT
A plane went down at Ralph Dunlap Elementary School in Orcutt Wednesday.

ORCUTT, Calif. - Kendra Peterson lives in the neighborhood near Oak Knoll Road.  

It was a quiet day, and she was relaxing, interacting with her friends on Instagram.

Then it happened.

"I was in my house. I heard this thing that sounded like an explosion. I ran out. Saw this massive amount of smoke. Came out here. You know. I found out it was a plane crash," said Peterson.

A neighbor's doorbell camera caught the tragic ending as the plane slammed into the playground of Dunlap Elementary School.

Santa Barbara County firefighters responded in minutes but there was nothing they could do for the pilot who died in the crash.

"I knew there was no survivor there was no chance. It was a very horrific crash. It was on fire," said Wes Sullins of Orcutt.

"We had a single aircraft with a single occupant that had gone down in the blacktop area, the yard area of the elementary school," said Daniel Bertucelli with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The pandemic meant one good thing:  no children in classes at Dunlap.

"I'm sad. I'm so glad that no children got hurt," said Peterson.

While multiple agencies responded to the crash firefighters say they were able to put out the flames fairly quickly upon arrival.

Neighbors watched from across the street.

Some sat on rooftops to see the tragic end for the pilot and his plane.

Local parents say the plane crashed around the time when children would be going to recess.

Smoke can be seen from a plane crash in Orcutt

Multiple emergency agencies responded to the scene. Firefighters were able to put the flames out quickly upon arrival.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the pilot died in the crash. They were the only occupant in the plane.

Video of the crash was captured by Albert Mendoza's Nest camera. In the video you can see the plane as it makes its descent. The plane's parachute appears to deploy but it does not appear to slow the crash. The crash makes a large sound and a plume of smoke is seen.

The identity of the pilot has not yet been released.

The NewsChannel discovered the plane is a Cirrus SR20 airplane registered to a company called West by Southwest Investments, LLC out of Newport Beach. This particular airplane is equipped with a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) which is designed to deploy and prevent deadly crashes. This system is certified with the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the FlightAware Live Tracking system, the pilot was scheduled to take off from Van Nuys Airport at 9:45 a.m. The pilot flew about 133 miles to the Santa Maria area and circled before crashing.

West by Southwest Investments, LLC appears to be a company based out of Glen Rose, Texas according to records provided by

Article Topic Follows: Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.

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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here

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