Firefighters extinguish a blaze caused when a small plane crashed into the California Highway Patrol weigh station off U.S. 101 near San Martin Wednesday evening. The pilot, Martin Schapiro of Palo Alto, was killed in the crash.

A small plane slammed into the front of the California Highway
Patrol weigh station shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, killing the
pilot, according to Gilroy Fire Battalion Chief Phil King.
the crash scene and firefighters putting out the fire.
The pilot who crashed his small plane into the front of the California Highway Patrol weigh station Wednesday evening was Martin Shapiro, of Palo Alto, according to John Godwin, his friend and co-owner of the plane.

The S.O.C.A.T.A. Rallye plane slammed into the building shortly after 6 p.m. The crash shattered windows, broke water pipes inside the building and sparked a small fire. Thick black smoke could be seen for miles but quickly dissipated as about 25 firefighters from Gilroy, Santa Clara County and CalFIre extinguished the fire.

There were no other injuries because CHP officers spent the day training and the building was vacant, according to CHP Assistant Chief Troy Abney. Everyone who had been there left by mid afternoon, he said.

“Ironically, today was training day,” Abney said. “Man, I’m glad it was closed today.” It will remain so until at least Thursday afternoon, Abney said, as Federal Aviation Administration investigators, assisted by CHP personnel, figure out exactly what happened.

Until then, Godwin just has his observations. The flight instructor at San Jose’s Reid-Hillview Airport and the plane’s co-owner sat in his truck at the beginning of the South County Airport runway when he saw his 1977 single-engine plane suddenly veer off its steady landing approach. It crashed into the CHP building, which sits east of the highway, less than a mile south of the San Martin airport.

“It was coming in steady as a rock, wings perfectly level on either side,” Godwin said.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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