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Three from Tesla killed in EPA plane crash; Stanford Hospital loses power

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Update, 5:55 p.m. | Caltrain officials are advising drivers in Palo Alto to take extra caution when driving across train tracks tonight as a power outage after this morning’s East Palo Alto plane crash, which took down power lines, has caused concerns with crossing gates at two intersections.

“The traffic signals are connected to train signals,” said Christine Dunn, a Caltrain spokesperson. “[The crossing gates] are coordinated so that when traffic signals turn red, they correspond to that.”

However, Dunn said, when power went out today because of a plane crash in East Palo Alto that knocked out three power lines and a transmission tower, Caltrain officials immediately set up generators at Charleston Road and Churchill Avenue to ensure that gates were working properly.

Dunn said Caltrain has personnel in the field monitoring both intersections for safety. She also said that trains have been “required to slow down” to 15 miles per hour when going through those two intersections.

Because of the outage, trains have been experiencing delays of up to 10 minutes all day.

Update, 1:24 p.m. | Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement that the three people killed in this morning’s East Palo Alto plane crash were Tesla employees. He did not share the employees’ names.

“Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us,” Musk said.

At the scene, authorities said midday that the twin-engine Cessna 310 struck a transmission line just before 8 a.m. and “electrified” the street. Menlo Park fire chief Harold Schapelhouman said agencies’ priority now is to “de-engergize” the system.

Menlo Park and East Palo Alto Fire Departments responded, as did authorities from the FAA, PG&E and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Caryn Ramirez, 18, said she was changing her baby’s diaper next door to the crash. She “thought the house exploded,” saying she could see “fire and twisted metal.”

“All of a sudden, everything went dark,” Ramirez said. “There was an orange flash and the house shook.”

Ellen Due, 48, lives across from the Beech Street house where the plane crashed. “God is good, but I saw bodies,” Due said.

A PG&E spokesperson said power should be restored to most Palo Alto residents by “4:30 or 5 p.m.” today.

Residents in East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, as well as Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, lost power at about 7:55 a.m. today. According to PG&E, the plane took out three transmission lines and one tower when it crashed. The lines serve municipal utilities in the city of Palo Alto.

The spokesperson said effects of a “voltage fluctuation” could have been felt throughout the peninsula immediately after the crash.

At 12:15, a hospital spokesperson said facilities were still running on emergency power and had staff had canceled all non-urgent appointments. The emergency room remains open.

Refresh this page for updates. Follow The Stanford Daily on Twitter at http://twitter.com/stanford_daily.

Update, 11:49 a.m. | The twin-engine Cessna that crashed into an East Palo Alto home just before 8 a.m. today is reportedly owned by Doug Bourn ’73, a senior electrical engineer at Tesla Motors, the San Carlos-based electric car company.

It remains unconfirmed whether Bourn was on the plane. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a member of Stanford’s engineering advisory council, was reportedly not on board. A company spokesperson said Tesla will issue a statement shortly.

Bourn holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Authorities are set to hold a news conference at the crash site at noon.

Refresh this page for updates. Follow The Stanford Daily on Twitter at http://twitter.com/stanford_daily.

11:33 a.m. | Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have lost electrical power after a city-wide outage reportedly caused by a plane crash in East Palo Alto this morning that killed three on board.

The plane, a twine engine Cessna 310, struck a high-tension transmission tower after leaving Palo Alto this morning, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

It crashed into a home day care center on Beech Street, killing the plane’s pilot and two passengers. No one on the ground was injured, according to the Mercury News.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics issued an alert on its Web site at 9:30 a.m. that the Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital were operating on emergency power due to a reported city-wide outage. Non-emergency cases are on hold and clinic appointments were being canceled. Operating cases and care for women in labor and delivery would continue.

The hospital said the emergency room was open “only for the most urgent situations” Wednesday morning. “We urge the community not to come to our emergency department unless the situation is truly urgent.”

The emergency alert remained in place at least through 10:41 a.m.

Stanford University said on its Web site that none of central campus has been affected by the power outage.

The Daily will have updates throughout the day.

A full article on the topic can be found here.