Selfless strangers aid Kearny Mesa plane crash victims

When a plane crashed into a San Diego commercial parking lot Wednesday, ordinary people were first on the scene and risked their lives to help others. It’s common to see planes flying over the Costco in Kearny Mesa, with Montgomery Field right over the 163 freeway. But when driver Randy Hartford and his buddy saw a plane coming in Wednesday, he said he knew immediately it was in trouble – it was flying way too low.

“Not much sleep, on fumes, replaying it and replaying it – what could you have done better? Heartbreaking that we lost the one (passenger), happy we got both out.”

Costco driver Hartford was one of the men who watched it all happen: a plane crashing into the parking lot of his workplace.

“As soon as it hit, it took out the pole, spun around, hit the ground, came down with a thud, a huge fireball erupted off it. I could see the pilot was still alive.”

Hartford and several others ran to the plane. He grabbed a fire extinguisher, used it, then grabbed another.

“It took a great deal to get them out. The one pilot lady was in pretty bad shape, she said ‘it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.’ (But we said) ‘we got to get you out of this plane!'”

As more people came to help, the 78-year-old female passenger was pulled away from the fiery wreckage; Hartford said it was like a scene out of a movie. Others brought first-aid kits and tried to stop the blood. Unfortunately, the older woman died. But the female pilot may be alive Thursday because of the selfless actions of strangers.

“I didn’t want the plane to blow; it would’ve been the end of them right there. And we just did what we could do – you just react like any other person would do.”

“Great employees, guys that’d go out of their way to help you out and stuff. It doesn’t surprise you that’s how everyone here is at Costco,” stated Costco employee Ed Saddler.

A team effort – that’s what Hartford called it. Two of his co-workers were burned in the rescue, but they are expected to be okay. As for Hartford, coming back to work the day after the fire does not make him think twice. Even thought he may not refer to himself as such, he’s a hero.

Categories: KUSI