Friday, May 19, 2017

Socata TB-20 Trinidad, N28070: Fatal accident occurred April 17, 2017 between Yuba Pass and Webber Lake, Sierra County, California

Bodies of Santa Rosa couple in Sierra plane crash found

Mark and Brenda Richard

The bodies of Brenda and Mark Richard, the Santa Rosa couple whose single-engine airplane went missing last month in the Sierra Nevada mountains, have been found, Sierra County Sheriff’s officials said Friday.

Sheriff Tim Standley said a recreational snowmobiler found a piece of the plane’s tail in the snow on Tuesday. Authorities confirmed the discovery early Wednesday and on Thursday found the bodies, in the separated cockpit buried in six to seven feet of snow.

Officials said the couple’s family have been notified of the discovery, in a remote area southeast of Yuba Pass in Sierra County.

“Our hearts go out to the Richards, to their friends who have called for information, to the family that have called in,” Standley said. “It’s a great tragedy.”

Undersheriff Robert Yegge said an autopsy to determine cause of death is underway.

The couple flew out of Truckee Tahoe Airport April 17 headed for Petaluma. At the time of their takeoff around 4 p.m., the temperature was 41 degrees with overcast skies and wind gusts exceeding 20 mph. A friend of the couple last month described Brenda Richard, 53, as a good pilot familiar with flying in the mountains.

The couple were in their white-and-blue single-engine Socata TB-20 Trinidad and were thought to have crashed in a 400-square-mile stretch of rugged backcountry in Sierra County, 18 miles northwest of Truckee. The general location of the plane was determined by radar and cellphone data. On April 23, after six days of unsuccessfully scouring the rough terrain, a search effort was called off.

Standley said it appears the plane struck a tree and split apart. He said he believes centrifugal force caused by the impact flung the cockpit and engine deep into powdery snow. Subsequent snowstorms encased the cockpit in icy, hard-packed snow, he said.

The tail portion of the plane that was found by the snowmobiler was located under a thick tree canopy, he said.

The area had been previously surveyed by rescue aircraft, but the wreckage would not have been visible due to the tree canopy, Standley said.

After the Sheriff’s Office received the report of the wreckage, Standley organized a party to search for the Richards. Standley said the team included those who had previously spent days last month searching for the plane.

The team, which included snowmobiles and specially equipped all-terrain vehicles, went out in snowy weather on Wednesday night. They found the plane by 2:30 a.m. but could not immediately find the cockpit, officials said.

On Thursday morning, a team went out with shovels to dig in the snow. The team found the cockpit and the couple, deceased, inside. Local investigators and federal agencies confirmed the bodies were that of Brenda, 53, and Mark, 54.

The Richards have four adult daughters, Lauren, Madeline, Ashley and Danielle, and a young grandchild, according to neighbors in Santa Rosa.

Original article can be found here:

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FAMS3 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 17, 2017 in Loyalton, CA
Aircraft: SOCATA TB 20 TRINIDAD, registration: N28070
Injuries: Unavailable

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 17, 2017, about 1600 Pacific daylight time, a Socata TB-20 Trinidad, N28070, departed Truckee-Tahoe Airport (TRK), Truckee, California. Since that time, the private pilot and one passenger have not been located, and the airplane is missing. Radar track data was lost when the airplane was about 16 nautical miles north of TRK, and is presumed to have crashed in remote mountainous terrain. The personal cross-country flight was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulator Part 91. There was no record that the pilot had filed a flight plan.

TRK airport operations personnel reported that about the time the airplane departed, lowering cloud bases were observed west of the airport, which would have been the direction of flight en route to O69. However, the pilot elected to depart to the north in an area where higher cloud bases existed.

Search and rescue efforts commenced the morning following the disappearance of the airplane, April 18th, and were subsequently suspended during the evening of April 23rd. To date the airplane has not been located, and an emergency locator signal has not been reported.

Mark and Brenda Richard

Authorities found a missing airplane, which crashed while carrying a married couple from Truckee to Petaluma, California, in mid-April, after receiving a tip from a citizen.

The plane was found on Tuesday in a remote area southeast of Yuba Pass in Sierra County, according to the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities found two occupants in the plane, later identified as 54-year-old Mark Steven Richard and his 53-year-old wife, Brenda Jane Richard. Both were reported missing on April 18 after they failed to land on schedule.

The couple departed at about 4 p.m. on April 17 from the Truckee Tahoe Airport in a small four-seat Socata TB20 Trinidad with tail No. N28070. They were scheduled to land at the Petaluma Municipal Airport, but they never arrived, Sierra County Sheriff’s deputies said in a previous news release.

Early the next morning, authorities with the Office of Emergency Services in California notified Sierra County deputies that the plane was overdue. 

Investigators with the Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center conducted radar analysis and traced the couple’s cellphones. They narrowed the search to an area near Yuba Pass Road, between Webber Lake and Jackson Meadow. The area is about 22 miles northwest of Truckee.

Authorities said they extensively searched the area with the help of the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team as well as other agencies in California.

Neighboring agencies from Nevada also helped in the search. But the search was later suspended after authorities failed to find the missing plane.

John Clausen, 58, who works as a sales representative for Granite Chief in Olympic Valley, Calif., often spends his time hiking and skiing in the Tahoe-area.

The former sports photographer said he was enjoying several hours riding around in his snowmobile when he came across torn pieces of the plane. He walked around the area and found that a large portion of the plane was still intact, he said.

“I didn’t look inside to see if there was anyone there,” Clausen said.

He said he felt surprised that a small plane would even survive a crash in the rugged mountainous area. He found the plane between Yuba Pass and Webber Lake—the same general area where authorities believed the plane had crashed.

“There was no way anyone could have found it because of the thick forest and the deep snow,” Clausen said. “My first thought was, ‘Wow!’”

Clausen said the trailhead where he was riding his snowmobile “easily had 2 to 3 feet of snow.” And the area where he found the plane was covered in even more snow.

“It was like finding a needle in the haystack,” he said. “I was not looking for it. I was just enjoying several hours of snowmobiling.”

Original article can be found here:

May 19, 2017 – On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office initiated a search effort based on a report of an overdue aircraft reported as traveling from Truckee to Petaluma California the previous day. The overdue aircraft was reported to have been occupied by Brenda Jane Richard, age 53 (Reported Pilot) and Mark Steven Richard age 54 (Reported Passenger), a married couple both of Santa Rosa California.

An extensive search was performed by members of the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team as well as numerous agencies from throughout the state, in addition to neighboring agencies from Nevada providing mutual aid to the extensive search effort. The search was later suspended with no evidence of the missing aircraft discovered.

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017 the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office responded to a citizen report of an airplane crash in a remote area south/east of Yuba Pass in Sierra County. Upon locating the crash site, the Sierra County Sheriff's Office was able to determine the crashed airplane was that of the missing aircraft from the April 18, 2017 search effort.

A subsequent investigation by the sheriff’s office as well as federal agencies confirmed two occupants on board the aircraft. Both occupants were found deceased and later identified as Brenda Jane Richard and Mark Steven Richard. The family of the couple has been notified. The Sierra County Sheriff's Office extends our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Mark & Brenda Richard.

Original article can be found here:

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