NTSB: Firefighter Pilot Made Low Pass Over Friends Before Fatal Crash That Killed 2
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board this weekend said that a LA Fire Department helicopter pilot who crashed a small plane in San Bernardino’s high desert last month made a low pass over friends and spectators just before the accident.
Brian Lee, 47, was killed along with an 8-year-old passenger.
The National Transportation Safety Board analyzed the June 9 crash.
Lee was attending a family gathering on El Mirage Lake, a dry salt lake and recreation area near Barstow. His passenger was identified as Sebastian Grewel of Frazier Park.
Twelve family members and friends were at the lake and witnessed the two-seat American Aviation AA-1A fly over them at about 100 feet above the lake bed, the NTSB said.
The off-duty Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot then approached the group of revelers for another low pass, the federal investigators said.
“Witnesses reported that as the airplane turned from crosswind to downwind, the bank angle became ‘excessive,’ with some witnesses assuming the pilot was either positioning the plane to land, or returning for a second low pass,” investigators said.
Instead, the airplane did not level off after banking. Its nose pitched down and plunged into the west side of the lake bed at a 45-degree angle, the NTSB reported.
Lee was flown to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and died of his injuries. It was not certain whether the child died at the scene.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)