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FAA, NTSB Head To Columbia

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials are en route to the Mother Lode today to investigate the cause of yesterday´s fatal plane crash.

Authorities say the aircraft, a single engine Piper Cherokee, is registered in Gardnerville, Nevada. Although all the details of the crash are yet to be known, it´s believed the small plane crashed moments after takeoff from the Columbia Airport around 11 a.m. Memorial Day.

Two people on board the plane died at the scene. Witnesses saw the plane burst into flames and start a small brush fire after it struck the ground. The fire was so intense, those trying to help could not get close to the wreckage.

Veteran sheriff´s deputy from Tuolumne County Dave Grant, on his way to the scene of the accident, died when he lost control of his patrol car and crashed into a tree traveling along Highway 49.