Tesla Executive On Doomed Plane Headed For L.A. Area (UPDATED)

The Tesla Roadster.
The Tesla Roadster.

A "high-ranking" executive with Tesla Motors was said to have been on a Hawthorne Airport-bound Cessna plane that crashed in East Palo Alto Wednesday, killing three people aboard.

UPDATE: Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued this statement Wednesday afternoon: "Three Tesla employees were on board a plane that crashed in East Palo Alto early this morning. We are withholding their identities as we work with the relevant authorities to notify the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us."

A Tesla spokesman said he could not confirm or deny the report, but Witness Daniel Morales said he was at a Bay Area airport when the plane took off shortly before 8 a.m. and knew the people on-board to include a high-ranking officer of the company and two other Tesla employees. Tesla, the electric car maker headed by Elon Musk, has a design studio in Hawthorne and is reported to have chosen a Downey site to build a new four-door car.

The small plane apparently took off in fog before possibly hitting a transmission line, descending and hitting a daycare center and a few vehicles on the ground. One home was apparently set ablaze by the collision. No one on the ground, however, was reported to have been hurt.

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