6 Bodies Recovered From Plane That Crashed in Lake


Divers removed six bodies from the wreckage of a World War II-era Navy patrol plane that nose-dived into a Northern California lake after performing an impromptu aerobatics display above spectators gathered at a convention of seaplanes, authorities said Sunday.

Federal investigators identified Santa Rosa airplane mechanic Doug Lacey as the pilot and owner of the twin-engine Lockheed P2V Harpoon that "buzzed" the crowd before slamming into shallow water at the western end of Clear Lake at 12:29 p.m. Saturday.

There were no survivors aboard the plane.

The names of the five other victims were withheld pending notification of relatives. On Sunday, divers continued their search for a possible seventh victim although authorities doubted earlier reports that there were six passengers with Lacey.

A large crane was used to haul out pieces of the plane's engines, hull and wings, authorities said.

Lacey, who took off Saturday from Sonoma County Airport, was apparently trying to impress friends at the seaplane convention when his bulky aircraft plunged into six feet of murky water and silt about 50 yards offshore.

"He came to buzz the hell out of a few friends at low altitude and then get out," said a federal investigator who asked that his name not be used. "He got carried away. It was really stupid."

Witnesses said Lacey made several low passes over stunned spectators onshore and floating seaplanes meeting in the lake for the 11th annual "Seaplane Fly-In" organized by the Seaplane Pilots Assn.

The plane's last maneuver was similar to a barrel roll.

"He kept going up until he lost flying speed, stalled, rolled over and went down," said Stan Sinn, a witness and spokesman for the pilots' association. "That thing went straight in and disintegrated in one big splash."

Sinn said organizers of the convention had planned to report the "uninvited and unwanted" plane, even before it crashed into the lake about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

"Even if he hadn't crashed, we were going to report him to the Federal Aviation Administration," Sinn said. "If the guy wanted to kill himself, he shouldn't have solicited a bunch of people to go down with him."

Separately, a stunt pilot was killed Sunday morning when his single-seat jet crashed in the Mojave Desert while being filmed by a 20th Century-Fox motion picture crew, authorities said.

The pilot, whose name was withheld pending notification of relatives, was flying inverted at about 300 m.p.h. when he lost control of the British Gnatt jet and crashed at Mojave Airport, Kern County Sheriff's Senior Deputy Michael Duffy said.

"The film was rolling at the time of the crash," Duffy said. "We don't know whether or not they got the crash on film."

The name of the movie being filmed was unknown, Duffy said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World