Investigators: Pilot struggled to start engine of San Jose bound plane before crash

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KTVU) - A preliminary report by investigators says the pilot of a small plane bound for San Jose before it crashed in Southern California shortly after take off last month had difficulty starting one engine.

Three people were killed outright in the Feb. 27 crash in Riverside and one of two survivors died Tuesday. The victims have have been identified as Nouri Hijazi, the pilot, Dana Hijazi, Adine Ferales and Stacy Pierce, who died two days ago.

The report Wednesday by National Transportation Safety Board investigators says the pilot started the right engine of the Cessna T310Q and made several unsuccessful attempts to start the left engine before it began running.


The plane departed for San Jose and began a left turn as it entered clouds. Video then showed the plane descending in a slight left-wing-low attitude about a mile from the airport.

The preliminary report cites a range of other facts about the flight but draws no conclusions about what caused the crash.

The crash occurred at 4:41 p.m. on Feb. 27 as the plane's occupants were returning from a cheerleading competition at the Disney California Adventure park.

During a walk-around inspection of the Cessna 310 before takeoff at Riverside Municipal Airport, the pilot, Nouri Hijazi, 83, started the right engine and then tried to start the left engine.

The left engine didn't start after multiple attempts but eventually started and the plane was cleared for takeoff, according to the NTSB report.

Although the report noted the pre-flight engine troubles, it did not indicate a likely cause for the crash, which occurred during an overcast day with calm winds.

Hijazi, his wife Dana Hijazi, 67, and Adine Ferales, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The Hijazis' daughter Stacey Joanne Pierce initially survived with severe injuries, but has since died, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the family's medical funds.

The fifth occupant, a woman, was found on the lawn near the wreckage and taken to a hospital for possible airway burns, local fire officials said. No one in any homes in the area were injured.

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.