1 dead in plane crash on Mount Diablo, according to fire officials

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KGO) -- Mt. Diablo park rangers combed through thick brush and vegetation trying to reach a small plane that crashed into the side of Mt. Diablo. The pilot, who was the only person onboard, died in the crash.

"The only reason we were able to find it today when we did, was because the clouds had lifted high enough so you could see (the plane) from the paved road," explains Cameron Morrison, the supervising ranger for Mt. Diablo State Park.

In an email to ABC7 News, the FAA confirms that the single-engine Mooney M20 plane took off from the Hayward Executive airport Friday night enroute to Lincoln, California. But the plane wasn't discovered until Saturday afternoon, when it was spotted by some hikers.

The FAA reports that family members of the pilot also contacted authorities to alert them that the plane didn't arrive.

"It is unusual to have a plane crash on Mt. Diablo. Very unusual," says Morrison. "It's in a remote area. The park does close at sunset. So if it did go down (Friday) night, there would be no one in the park to see it or hear go down."

Morrison says the plane crashed near the popular Summit Trail, and was about 1,000 feet from the actual summit.

Some of the bushes and trees on that side of the mountain are over 7-feet tall. Saturday's thick clouds blanketed the hillside. Both added to the difficulty in locating the plane.

Along with the poor weather conditions, investigators are not ruling out the possibility of mechanical failure.

The crash site remains blocked off with the unidentified pilot's dead body still inside the plane.

Park rangers have been ordered not to remove the body until FAA and NTSB teams conduct their investigation.

"They just thought it was unusual that it went down, and they wanted it to be treated as crime scene until they could get out on scene, and make their own findings," says Morrison.

FAA and NTSB teams are coming in from out of state. They arrive Sunday.
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