Two killed in Lake Mathews plane crash
10:58 PM PDT on Sunday, October 24, 2010
By JOHN ASBURY and DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise The bodies of two people were discovered Sunday morning in the wreckage of a small plane near Lake Mathews.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies found the remains in a single-engine, homebuilt Glasair at 10:30 a.m. Sunday about 100 feet from the eastern shore of Lake Mathews, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.
Both people on board were killed, he said.
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Mark Zaleski / The Press-Enterprise
A Riverside County coroner transportation vehicle enters the Metropolitan Water District property to pick up the bodies Sunday after an airplane crashed near Lake Mathews.
Riverside County coroner’s officials remained at the scene, in a remote, gated area about two miles from any main roads. The crash site, on land owned by the Metropolitan Water District, was closed off by authorities.
Neither person on board was identified. Coroner’s deputies had not made a positive identification of age or gender.
The plane, a 1990 Reed Phillip experimental Glasair, was registered to Timothy R. Larson, 41, of Moreno Valley, according to FAA records. A certificate for the plane was issued in June.
Messages were not returned at Larson’s phone number.
A friend of the people on board reported the plane missing Saturday after it failed to return to Corona Municipal Airport, Gregor said.
The plane departed Corona at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for a local flight. Lake Mathews is the designated practice area for the airport, though it’s unknown where the plane was headed.
News of the crash was just reaching fellow pilots and staff at the airport Sunday afternoon. While several pilots tweaked propellers and departed amid overcast skies, no one knew the pilot involved in the fatal crash or were familiar with Larson.
Gene Elvin, of Newport Beach, said he saw the plane buzzing overhead Saturday afternoon as it departed. He said the plane was operated by two commercial 747 pilots while a visitor from Denmark waited for it to return.
By late afternoon, a helicopter and another plane departed to search for the missing plane, he said.
“I’m sure it’s an isolated incident,” Elvin said. “You don’t see this happen every day.”
Corona Airport Manager Richard Brodeur deferred questions to the FAA.
As of May, the airport was working to complete a list of safety recommendations by the city’s air-safety task force, formed after a mid-air collision in 2008 that killed five people. Changes included increased lighting, flight safety seminars and an FAA review of flight patterns that were deemed safe.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the Lake Mathews crash, and Gregor said all information so far is preliminary.
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