Small plane crashes feet from home, killing pilot

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A cargo plane crashed into the front yard of a suburban Denver home early Tuesday, killing the pilot.

The twin-engine Cessna 404 cartwheeled before stopping a few feet from the front door of the home, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The house had some heat damage from the resulting fire, but no one else was injured.

Investigators said the pilot, Daniel Lee Steitz, 55, reported losing engine power before going down.

"I heard a plane go by really low and I held my breath," neighbor Julie Pfannenstein told The Denver Post. "We live by the airport and planes go by all the time, but this one was low."

Pfannenstein said she initially thought the plane was going to hit her house, and she let out a sigh of relief when it passed overhead.

The plane operated by Key Lime Air had taken off from nearby Centennial Airport and was heading to Denver International Airport when it crashed in sub-zero temperatures.

NTSB investigator Jennifer Rodi said cold weather can affect engine performance, and the investigation will look at how the plane was stored and whether the engine was preheated, among many other factors.

Key Lime President Cliff Honeycutt said the plane was not carrying any cargo, and no one else was on board.

"Our focus at this time is on supporting the family of the pilot," he said.

Key Lime Air, based at Centennial Airport, operates a fleet of more than 30 passenger and cargo airplanes.

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