Search plane crashes, two die |

Search plane crashes, two die

Robb Hicken and Christina Proctor

The crash of a search plane Monday in a remote wilderness area of the Toiyabe National Forest halted a weeklong search for a second plane.

A Cessna 182, operated by the Civil Air Patrol, crashed into an area known as Bear Valley killing two crew members and critically injuring the third. The plane was part of a 12-plane search effort flying out of Carson City.

“The search plane was in a grid doing a search,” Lt. Cynthia Ryan, Civil Air Patrol spokeswoman said. “They had a mishap. They crashed in the Highland Peaks area about 40-miles south/southeast of Minden.”

She said there was no explanation yet as to why the plane crashed and the crew member names were not available at press time. The crew were members of the California division of the Civil Air Patrol.

The plane was canvassing a remote area in Alpine County searching for Carson City businessman Ron Lukas’ plane that disappeared Oct. 26.

“We don’t know what happened,” Ryan said. “Yes, they may have gone in for a closer look, but we just don’t know at this time.”

The search plane was reported missing by the Carson City Civil Air Patrol at 11:45 a.m. Alpine County Sheriff’s personnel went to the crash site north of California State Route 4 near Highland Lakes.

The single survivor was transported by a California Highway Patrol helicopter to the University of California Davis Medical Center’s burn unit in Sacramento, Calif. The survivor was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon.

The CPA search was suspended after news about the crash was received. Ryan said that Forest Service and California Highway Patrol aircraft continued throughout the afternoon.

The U.S. Air Force and the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the crash. Ryan said officials from both agencies are expected to be on scene today.

Lukas’ plane, the object of an intensive search effort for the last week, carried four people when it disappeared while en route to Calaveras County Airport in California from Douglas County Airport in Minden.

The Civil Air Patrol received new leads from a pilot who flew with Lukas on Sunday pointing their search in the direction of Bear Valley. Crews began searching the remote area just before dusk Sunday and picked up several strong signals from an emergency beacon.

Ryan said the search for Lukas’ plane will resume today

“Until we really determine that we’ve covered the area, the best it can be covered, we still hold out hope,” Ryan said of the search which is now in its ninth day.

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