Officer monitoring speeders killed in plane crash

May 8, 2010 5:01:52 AM PDT
A highway patrol pilot flying to work monitoring highway speeders was killed when his aircraft crashed in Southern California, officials said Saturday. Officer Danny Benavides, 39, was flying solo when his plane went down about 9:30 a.m. Friday in a desert area near Highway 78 and Split Mountain Road in Imperial County, the patrol said in a news release.

It said the patrol communication center lost contact with the pilot and called a regional search that involved both military and law enforcement personnel.

Wreckage of the aircraft was spotted about 4 p.m. Benavides, a 13-year patrol officer, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the crash hasn't been determined and an investigation is under way.

The release said Benavides had just finished working one speed detail and was en route to another on Interstate 8 when he crashed.

Benavides had been assigned to the patrol's border division air operations unit as a pilot.