Vietnam veteran and San Diego resident Carl Morrison was identified by his family as the sole victim in the crash. He was in town as a consultant with the Sonoma County Water Agency.
The case began when the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office got a call around 6:40 p.m. from the U.S. Air Force about an emergency transponder activation from a small plane in eastern Petaluma.
Deputies couldn't find the plane at the coordinates the equipment gave on Sonoma Mountain. However, around the same time, Morrison's wife called Petaluma police from San Diego County to say her husband was overdue home, sheriff's officials said.
Family IDs #Petaluma plane crash victim as San Diego resident Carl Morrison. He was in town as a consultant w/ the Sonoma Co Water Agency. #VietnamVeteran & active member of @CivilAirPatrol. #abc7now pic.twitter.com/YfS0KQ6lIX— Katie Utehs (@KatieUtehs) April 8, 2018
Morrison was believed to have left the Petaluma Airport en route to San Diego County in his Mooney M20 fixed-wing airplane, according to sheriff's officials.
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Shortly after 10 p.m., deputies spotted a small fire in a remote ravine near the 3600 block of Manor Lane. Deputies found the downed aircraft and the body of the man believed to be the pilot, sheriff's officials said.
The deputies secured the scene and notified the National Transportation Safety Board, the independent federal agency that determines the probable cause of transportation crashes.
According to sheriff's officials, the NTSB will investigate the cause of the collision. The Federal Aviation Administration will also investigate, according to Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the agency.