California family survives small plane crash after aircraft deploys parachute

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A California couple and their two-year-old daughter survived a crash landing in their small plane last week after losing engine power and deploying the aircraft’s parachute to slow their descent into a mountainous area, authorities said.

The man and woman, both 38, and their toddler walked away with only minor cuts and scratches after the single-engine 2004 Cirrus SR22 crashed in a forested area of Whitethorn around 1:15 p.m. on Friday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The plane’s engine lost power about five minutes after taking off, according to the sheriff’s office, and as the pilot began to troubleshoot, he noticed that the plane’s altitude was too low for recovery.

He then deployed the aircraft’s Cirrus Airframe Parachute System to slow the plane’s descent, officials said. The parachute carried the aircraft until it crashed among the trees.

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“It sounded like it was a last-resort effort,” Sheriff’s Office Capt. Quincy Cromer told the Press Democrat, a Santa Rosa-based newspaper. 

Shelter Cove Fire Department Chief Nick Pape told the newspaper that their “chances of survival without the parachute were slim.”

plane wreckage in wooded area

Fire officials said in a statement that even with the parachute, the family was lucky to have only suffered minor injuries.

plane wreckage in wooded area

The family was able to exit the plane on their own before first responders arrived, Pape said.

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Photos show the wrecked plane among the trees with its parachute snagged in the branches.

plane wreckage in wooded area

The family resides in Santa Rosa. Their identities were not immediately provided.

It was the second small plane crash that the fire department responded to within a year.

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The previous plane crashed into the ocean in July. The two occupants were rescued after swimming out of the wreckage.

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