But all five people on board the plane were killed in the crash.
A second onlooker said: "I actually saw the plane fall from the sky while I was a passenger in my husband's vehicle about 500 ft away from the crash site".
A small plane crashed in the parking lot of a shopping center in California on Sunday.
Chilling dashcam footage captures the aircraft free-falling from the sky as shocked onlookers gasp in horror.
The 1973 Cessna 414 was registered to Category III Aviation Corp.in San Francisco company and had flown from the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Concord, according to FAA records.
The aircraft struck the ground about a mile from Orange County's John Wayne Airport.
The twin-engine Cessna plane was bound for John Wayne Airport, when the pilot declared an emergency.
It crashed in a parking lot for Staples, a CVS pharmacy and other retailers, said Captain Tony Bommarito of the Orange County Fire Authority.
Tweets from people near the scene show a crumpled plane among the cars and palm trees of the parking lot.
The incident reportedly occurred at around 12.30pm on Sunday.
"No one on the ground was injured", said Capt.
The FAA launched an investigation into the crash, and added that the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause.