Airplane debris discovered in California lake not from doomed 1965 crash: Sheriff

The wreckage of a small airplane researchers for a sonar company recently discovered on the floor of a Northern California lake is not the remnants of aircraft that crashed in 1965, killing four people, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said an in-depth search of the wreckage in Folsom Lake northeast of Sacramento determined the plane is one from a 1986 crash and that no fatalities occurred in the incident.

“For now, the plane will remain at the bottom of the lake,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

Researchers from Seafloor Systems, an underwater surveying company, were testing a new sonar device at Folsom Lake last week and picked up what appeared to be the debris of a small plane they initially suspected was a Piper Comanche 250 that crashed on New Year’s Day in 1965, killing all four people aboard. The bodies of three of the people who perished in the crash were never recovered.

PHOTO: A paddle boarder paddles at Folsom Lake Marina as the lake experiences lower water levels during the California drought emergency, May 27, 2021, in El Dorado Hills, California.

While the fuselage, engine, propeller, right-wing and tail were visible in the sonar images sent to the surface by the company’s small remote-operated underwater vessel, or ROV, the researchers could not make out the aircraft’s tail number or see inside the cockpit.

The discovery prompted the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an investigation.

“Dive Team sergeants from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office went back out with Seafloor Systems technicians (on Tuesday) to get more in-depth images of the plane. From the images, they determined that the aircraft was from a 1986 case where a plane went down and NOT the 1965 crash,” the sheriff’s office statement reads.

Sheriff’s officials said the 1986 plane crash had been reported and thoroughly investigated.

The sheriff’s office also noted that relatives of those who died in the 1965 crash do not wish for others to search for the plane or the remains of their loved ones.

“They would like the final resting place for their family to remain at the bottom of Folsom Lake,” the sheriff’s statement reads.

After news broke this week of the discovery, Katherine Radican, whose late husband’s brother, 15-year-old Glen Amick, was aboard the doomed 1965 sightseeing flight, told ABC News he had spent most of his life searching the lake for the plane.

She said her husband, Frank Wilcox, who died nearly three years ago, was just 3 years old when his brother was killed and had promised his mother he would find his sibling’s remains someday and perhaps finally give him a proper burial.

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