17-year-old girl accused of stealing, crashing plane at California airport

Authorities arrested a 17-year-old girl Wednesday morning on suspicion of stealing a plane and crashing it at Fresno Yosemite International Airport, according to officials.

Airport police Chief Drew Bessinger said Fresno police officers found the girl, who was not identified because of her age, wearing the pilot’s headset inside a damaged King Air 200 propeller-driven aircraft they responded Wednesday morning to a 911 call about the crash.

Police said the teen had climbed a barbed wire-topped perimeter fence at the airport around 7:30 a.m. and got into the airplane. She was able to start one of the engines, officials said.

"The aircraft began to move and pivot and crashed into a building and a fence on airport property," Bessinger said at a news conference. "The aircraft never became airborne and there was no fire. The aircraft did sustain some substantial damage, however."

When officers found the girl, they said she was uncooperative and appeared to be disoriented. She was taken into custody and expected to be booked Wednesday into juvenile hall.

Authorities said Wednesday the incident happened in the airport’s general aviation section.

"No commercial passengers or commercial aircraft were ever placed at risk," Bessinger said.

Officials continue to investigate how and why the teenager started the plane's engine.

"(Her) motives are still under investigation, however, there is no indication of a domestic terrorism-related motive," Bessinger said.

No injuries were reported.

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