Friday, February 24, 2012

1 Assumed Dead After Car Plunges Off Runway Into Canal - Tracy Municipal Airport (KTCY), California

Eric Rode Olsen

A BMW 328i was reportedly to have been racing down the runway late Thursday night and crashed through the chain link fence and into the Delta Mendota Canal drowning one passenger.
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

Debris marks the path of the as it tumbled across the Delta Mendota Canal bank’s gravel road and into the water.
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

A car plunged into the Delta Mendota Canal west of the Tracy Municipal Airport after it raced down a runway, through a chain link fence and launched into the canal late Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

A Stanislaus Towing Service crewman watches the sonar screen as they search Friday morning for the body of man believed to have drowned in a car accident late Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

An East Bay Regional Parks helicopter helps search Friday morning for the body of a man on who officials believed drowned in the Delta Mendota Canal late Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

Crews from Stanislaus Towing Service use a sonar Friday morning to search for the body in the Delta Mendota thought to have drowned in a car accident late Thursday night
Photo Credit: Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

TRACY (CBS13) — A man with three passengers lost control and drove his BMW into a canal late Thursday night, and one of the passengers is presumed dead after never re-emerging from the water.

Investigators say it appears 32-year-old Eric Olsen was on a Tracy Municipal Airport runway when he lost control of his BMW 328i, raced through the fence and then slammed the car in the Delta Mendota Canal just feet from the end of the runway at about 11:40 p.m..

“Three people were able to escape from the canal and one occupant is still missing,” Tracy Police Sgt. Luis Mejia said.

Olsen and a pair of passengers managed to pull themselves out of the water. But one of their friends was left behind and presumed dead.

After crews pulled the car from the canal, police called in a special crew to help locate the missing man’s body.

They spent two hours Friday taking underwater pictures of the mile-and-half stretch of water.

Police say they found something where the canal meets Tracy Boulevard, but there was no immediate word if divers will recover what could be the remains of the missing passenger.

On Olsen’s Facebook page he lists his occupation as the chief operating officer at Sky View Aviation. A pilot at the airport tells CBS13 the car’s passengers are all flight school students with access to the runway.

Crime scene investigators took pictures inside the office. No one with the school wanted to answer questions from CBS13.

Police say the passenger who is presumed dead was visiting from Europe. His name hasn’t been released.

Olsen was arrested on a charge of vehicular manslaughter. Police are also investigating to see if alcohol was involved.

A Swedish man in his early 20s was killed Thursday night when the car in which he was riding drove through an airport fence and crashed into the Delta Mendota Canal.

Police spent Friday, Feb. 24, dredging the canal using water sonar and an overhead helicopter from East Bay Parks to try and recover the man’s body. He was last seen in the vehicle when it crashed around 11:40 p.m. The sonar team was seen walking along the canal from Tracy Boulevard west toward Corral Hollow Road.

According to police, 30-year-old Eric Rode Olsen of Tracy was driving a 328i late model BMW with three male passengers when it crashed through a fence at the Tracy Municipal Airport and launched into the canal.

Sgt. Tony Sheneman of the Tracy Police Department said Olsen is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Emergency dispatch records show a caller reported that a car was allegedly racing on the airport’s 4,005-foot east-west runway. The canal runs perpendicular to the end of the runway.

The car reportedly crashed through a fence along the airport border, hit a dirt levy leading up to the canal and launched into the air. The car likely rolled at least once on the canal levy before it crashed into the water.

Dispatch records indicate that the caller saw three of the car’s occupants were pulled from the water, but the driver told police that the victim was still trapped in the backseat.

Tracy Fire Division Chief Dave Bramell said that two of the survivors drove themselves to Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and the third man refused ambulance treatment at the scene, but was later taken in a private vehicle to the hospital. No medical information about the three survivors was released, but it was reported that they did not sustain any life-threatening injuries.

Also assisting at the crash scene was three fire companies — two from Tracy Fire and the third from the Tracy Defense Depot — and the Lathrop/Manteca Fire Department Dive Team responded but weren’t needed once the search shifted from a rescue to a recovery.

Bramell said divers remained at the ready on the bank of the canal, while officials of the Borges Towing company began to dredge the water shortly after midnight. The car was pulled from the water at 1:36 a.m., but the body of the missing man was not found inside.

According to Bramell the fact that anyone survived the swift water of the Delta canal is extremely rare.

“The majority of the time they are unable to get out,” he said. “It moves south and its fast moving water. Very difficult once you’re in the water to find your way out.”

Tracy Municipal (KTCY), California: Officials vouch for airport's security

Padlocks and warning signs are some of the security measures meant to keep people away from the aircraft at Tracy Municipal Airport off Tracy Boulevard. 
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Aircraft at Tracy Municipal Airport sit on the tarmac behind two fences. 
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

Aircraft are lined up along the tarmac at Tracy Municipal Airport off Tracy Boulevard behind two fence meant to keep unwanted people out. 
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Signs mark the restricted area at Tracy Municipal Airport off Tracy Boulevard. 
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Aircraft at Tracy Municipal Airport sit on the tarmac behind two fences. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

by Denise Ellen Rizzo / Tracy Press
Feb 16, 2012

Pilots and officials at Tracy Municipal Airport are in agreement that security at the facility is fine, following reports of a Tracy man stealing a plane near Fresno.

Raymond Romero Pirro, 52, allegedly stole a Cessna 172 from Buchanan Field Airport around Feb. 5 and crashed it a mile outside of Fresno on Feb. 7.

Tracy airport, although not guard-patrolled, is believed secure with the help of staff and facility users, officials said. By using a program similar to the residential Neighborhood Watch, airport users have become the security watchdogs of the facility.

“People out there have a strong sense of security,” Police Capt. John Espinoza said. “We don’t know who does and doesn’t belong on the airport, but people out there know everybody. They will call us with anything suspicious.”

Espinoza said it’s not the first time he has heard of someone taking a plane for a joyride, but he said it does raise a concern about what they would do with it. He said law enforcement and other city staff conduct tabletop emergency preparedness exercises for different scenarios, including a plane crashing in city limits.

“You can’t stop them (in the air), but you can deal with the aftermath,” he said.

Pilots who utilize the airport said they feel safe for themselves and their aircraft.

“It’s locked up pretty tight,” Tracy Airport Association Vice President Dave Anderson said. “We drive through on our way out and make sure the gates are locked and (that there’s) no suspicious activity. The tenants keep it fairly self-policed, and the police department is pretty responsive.”

But pilot Gary Harding said he wished there were people out there 24-hours a day.

“We all know the way the economy is going, so I wouldn’t mind having camera surveillance,” he said. “It’s cheap. I think it would be a great idea. Nobody has taken the chance yet (to steal a plane). Everything is fine right now.”