CAL Fire Pilot Dies

October 8, 2014 Events  No comments

headerimage.imgYOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP)

In this photo provided by Donald Talend, smoke rises from a plane crash Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, near Chinquapin, Calif. The S-2T air tanker fighting a wildfire near Yosemite National Park in Northern California smashed into a canyon wall on the edge of Yosemite National Park, killing the pilot, sending wreckage tumbling to the ground below and leaving onlookers shocked at the grim spectacle.

“I heard a large explosion, I looked up on the steep canyon wall and saw aircraft debris was actually raining down the side of the mountain after the impact,” said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Michael, who was stopping traffic along state Route 140 near the west entrance of the park because of the wildfire when he saw the plane crash Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was spreading up the canyon wall, and it appeared the pilot was trying to lay down fire retardant to stop its progress, Michael told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

“It appeared from the direction he was going, he was trying to make a drop down the side of the canyon when he hit the canyon wall.”

Rescue crews hiking through extremely rugged terrain found the wreckage and confirmed the death of the pilot, believed to be the only person aboard, several hours after the crash, said Alyssa Smith, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The pilot’s family has requested no name be released until all immediate family members can be notified, Smith said.

There was no indication of what may have caused the crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board would lead the investigation starting Wednesday morning, officials said.

The members of the FFD extend our thoughts and prayers to the pilot, his family and the CAL Fire family.

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