By MIKE MORRIS
A Murphys couple and their adult son were released from separate hospitals this week after surviving a plane crash near Watsonville on Saturday evening.
Pilot Jim Pryor crashed his four-passenger 1963 Mooney M20C two miles west of the Watsonville Airport just after 8 p.m. He was approaching Watsonville after leaving Madera earlier in the evening.
His wife, Linda, a school bus driver for the Vallecito Union School District, and their 30-year-old son, Ryan, were passengers in the plane.
The Watsonville area was foggy Saturday night with low visibility.
The elder Pryor has a private pilot's license for single-engine airplanes. He does not have an instrument rating, according to a federal report. Pilots must have instrument ratings to fly in certain types of weather.
"You should never fly without instruments in poor weather," said Donn Walker, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. "You might as well be closing your eyes."
There was substantial damage to the plane, which crashed into trees on a hillside several hundred yards away from houses. Walker said the family members had serious injuries.
Joy Alexiou, spokeswoman for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, said Jim and Linda Pryor were discharged from the hospital Tuesday.
They were both resting yesterday afternoon at an undisclosed Santa Cruz County location.
Ryan Pryor returned to his Scotts Valley home, in Santa Cruz County, after being released from Watsonville Community Hospital yesterday morning, hospital officials said. He declined to comment on the crash.
Howard Plagens, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said an investigation into the crash is under way.
Evidence still has to be gathered, as do statements from California Highway Patrol officers and Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department deputies who were on the scene Saturday.