A small plane traveling from Fullerton to Pomona made an emergency crash landing on the roof of a commercial building near the 10 and 57 Freeways in Pomona last week. The plane’s pilot and only passenger sustained relatively minor injuries.
A Los Angeles County Fire team attended to the scene after motorists on the freeway witnessed the incident. According to officials, the plane’s pilot “lost power” and had to quickly maneuver an emergency landing clear of people or houses.
The pilot, Donald Bach, is a 61-year-old male who has been flying for 45 years. His wife told CBS Los Angeles that he suffered a broken ankle and a several cuts from the crash but is otherwise in stable condition.
Respondent teams say that while the unanticipated pit-stop could be considered a successful emergency landing for the plane, it stopped just 50 feet shy of the building’s structure.
Witnesses also agree that it was a close call. “Prayers go out to the pilot,” said bystander Kelly Vela. “If he would have fallen five feet earlier, it probably would have collided with side of that building, and probably would have been a different story.”
“We saw it hit,” Vella added. “We saw the impact. We figured it was a roof and it bounced a bit. We started going, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and I called 911.”
The building at 901 Corporate Center Drive, home to Devry University’s Pomona Campus, has since been surveyed for damage and safety. Roof inspections are recommended for buildings at least once or twice a year under normal circumstances, but in this case, some extra precaution seems warranted.
The Federal Aviation Administration will be further investigating the incident, including wreckage since removed from the rooftop scene, in order to determine the cause of the plane’s failure.
The plane was a small Piper PA 28, which seats four people. The FAA would not disclose how many people were on board, though L.A. fire officials maintain that Bach was the sole occupant at the time of the landing.