SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- The brother of the registered owner of the Piper that crashed in South Lake Tahoe Saturday night says all five people aboard died. Jesus de la Mora - from the Fresno, CA area - says his brother, Francisco de la Mora, was in the airplane with his wife, 7-year-old daughter, and two other people wewhen it crashed.
Despite confirmation from the family, El Dorado County Sheriff's Department officials caution that information given to the family is based on speculation of the airplane's tail number. Because of the intense fire when the plane crashed, much - if not all - evidence of the plane's registration, including the tail number, was burned.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official says the plane was a Piper PA32. It left the Lake Tahoe Airport (TVL) on Runway 36 and crashed for as-yet unknown reason. The plane was then destroyed by a fire which witnesses say started when the plane hit the ground.
An El Dorado County Sheriff's Department statement says witnesses heard what was described as "apparent engine problems." Witnesses then saw the plane "dip downward into the ground while attempting a turn." The statement also says the plane did not file a flight plan with TVL before departure.
It happened at 9:48pm near Winnemucca and Jean Avenues. The crash and fire also caught some wild land on fire, but that was quickly put out; only about an acre of land burned. The fire never threatened any buildings.
El Dorado County deputies have the crash site roped off while the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducts the investigation. The NTSB reports the same plane was involved in a non-injury crash in Destin, Florida in 2005.
Despite word from the airplane owner's family, investigators are not releasing any information on the the pilot or any passengers.
KOLO 8 News Now will update you with the latest information when it becomes available.