A single-engine plane crashed into the roof of a building in Torrance Thursday, leaving the pilot dead and a passenger hospitalized in critical condition.
The Cessna 177 went down around noon just a mile east of Torrance Municipal Airport-Zamperini Field shortly after departure, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor. He said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
One of the victims, described as a passenger, was treated at the scene and taken to nearby hospital, according to the city of Torrance. The other victim, only described as male, was pronounced dead at the scene.
No other injuries were reported.
Omid Taheri, who witnessed the crash while working at the Acura car dealership across the street, said the plane appeared lower than ones usually flying out of nearby Zamperini Field.
"Out of nowhere," he said, the plane "tilted to the right and just nose-dived straight toward the ground."
Another witness, Jesse Ortiz, said he heard a loud "thud" before seeing four police officers try to help the victims.
Sky5 aerial video shows the crash wreckage on the side of a building's roof, where damaged plane parts can be seen strewn over the roof's edge. Footage from the ground shows what appears to be a plane wing dangling down the side of the single-story structure.
The building, located in the 25300 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, houses restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and Joey's Smokin' BBQ. Authorities said it would have to be inspected once remnants of the plane are removed within the next day or two.
"You can see from the ground how it penetrated through the roof and came into that patio sitting area," Torrance Fire Department Chief Assistant Robert Millea said of the plane.
He confirmed a person died in the crash and another was critically injured.
The pilot was well known at nearby Zamperini Field, which he had just taken off from before the crash.
Kayvon Hoveyda, a former flight student of the pilot, said the pilot had extensive experience flying a variety of different types of aircraft. Hoveyda said he last spoke to the pilot about 15 minutes before the crash.
The strip mall where the crash occurred is a heavily populated area where several stores are located within an outdoor shopping center.
"We didn't really think about it being a plane," said April Goebel, another witness. She described the impact as sounding like a car accident.
"I never thought that I would come out to see a plane on top of a building so close to us," she said.
Officials with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were dispatched to the scene in the hours after.
At 4:30 p.m., city officials said all lanes of Crenshaw Boulevard were reopened after some areas were shut down earlier.
KTLA's Jennifer Thang and Lucas DerMugrdechian contributed to this report.