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SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Adelanto man one of five dead in plane crash

SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Adelanto man one of five dead in plane crash


An Adelanto man died Sunday, Aug. 17, when two small planes crashed midair while approaching an airport in southern San Diego County, according to the San Diego County Coroner’s Office.

James Henry Hale, 66, was one of the five people who died in Sunday’s crash, which occurred around 11 a.m. about 2 miles northeast of Brown Field Municipal, Federal Aviation Administration Spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Hale was the co-pilot in a twin-engine Sabreliner jet registered to military contractor BAE Systems, which said in a statement that its employees were aboard the aircraft. The other occupants, Carlos Palos, John Kovach and Jeff Percy, lived in Kern County, California.

While the Sabreliner was approaching Brown Field, a single-engine Cessna 172 also approached. The pilot and lone person aboard the Cessna 172 was identified as Qualcomm senior marketing manager Michael A. Copeland, 55, of San Diego.

When the planes collided and hit the ground, both caught fire and broke apart, said Nick Schuler, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“It appears it was a very violent crash, as you can tell by both aircraft being in multiple pieces,” Schuler said.

The wreckage which was strewn across a wide area. The Sabreliner crashed on a grassy slope and the Cessna fell within the nearby Otay County Open Space Preserve.

Crews extinguished several brush fires where the planes came down. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after he suffered a heat-related injury, Schuler said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the collision in a probe that could take as long as a year.

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