2 dead after small plane crashes in hills west of Newhall Pass

Two people died after a plane went down in rugged terrain west of the 5 Freeway’s Newhall Pass Friday afternoon, officials said.

The single-engine Mooney M20 vanished from radar around 1:50 p.m. while on its way into Van Nuys airport, according to Ian Gregor with the Federal Aviation Administration.

However, personnel from both the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department said the incident was reported closer to 2:45 p.m.

Inspector Sky Cornell said fire officials received two calls around that time. One was from a passerby reporting an aircraft that looked to be having engine trouble, and the other from a traffic control tower at the airport reporting they’d lost contact with the pilot. 

Authorities searched the hills northwest of Sylmar for hours before finding the plane around 5 p.m. in the area of Sunshine Canyon and San Fernando roads, near the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. In addition to battling rough hillsides muddy from heavy rain, the crew had helicopters grounded due to low visibility and high-voltage power lines down in area, likely due to the crash, Cornell said.

Two occupants were found dead at the remote crash site, and authorities determined there were no survivors, the Fire Department said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA were responding to the scene, officials said.

No further details were available.