Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tracy Municipal Airport (KTCY), California: Reported SkyView employee in county jail for airport accident

Debris marks the spot where a car plunged into the Delta-Mendota Canal after a car accident late Thursday night. The search for the body has been called off.
 Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

A SkyView Aviation employee remains in county jail on charges of vehicular manslaughter today, while authorities suspended the search for body of a Swedish pilot who drowned when the car in which he was riding went into the Delta-Mendota Canal on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Eric Rode-Olsen, 30, was allegedly driving a late-model BMW 328i with three Swedish men who were undergoing pilot training at SkyView when police say he drove down a Tracy Municipal Airport runway, through a chain link fence and into the canal. The car became submerged, and only three men, including Rode-Olsen, were able to escape.

According to a member of the Tracy Airport Association, Rode-Olsen was a manager at SkyView.

Police are not releasing the name of the victim, who is reportedly in his early 20s. They are also withholding the names of the other two passengers.

SkyView Aviation LLC is a private company that leases space at the airport, which is owned the city of Tracy.

Due to the swift current of the waterway, Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said police put on hold their search for the body as of this afternoon. Authorities will now have to wait until the victim’s body surfaces.

“It’s unfortunate, but there is not much we can do because of the length of the canal,” he said.

In regard to the city’s view of the accident and how it will affect airport security, Rod Buchanan, director of parks and community services and whose department oversees airport operations, said the matter was an ongoing criminal investigation.

“Ongoing investigation, so really important we leave it up to the police department,” Buchanan said.

Word about the accident spread quickly through the airport community in the days after the accident.

“Everyone is in denial, and shock — and like wow,” said Tracy Airport Association President John Favor. “We’re all looking at it as a real tragedy.”

Favor said Rode-Olsen’s three passengers were all in the SkyView pilot training program for the last several weeks and were preparing to return soon to Sweden.

“SkyView trains a lot of Swedish pilots,” Favor said, adding that it’s significantly cheaper to learn to be a pilot in the United States than in Europe. “They have these Swedish students come over here all the time.”

A SkyView employee, who declined to be identified, said on Friday, Feb. 24, that the representatives of SkyView were not commenting about the accident.

Rode-Olsen is being held in San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp on $150,000 bail. A court arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Manteca Superior Court.

Favor said the charges Rode-Olsen faces are out of character. Favor spoke highly of SkyView officials and their work to promote the airport.

“Eric’s life may well be destroyed over this, and someone else’s life was destroyed,” Favor said. “Everyone is quite sad.”


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