NTSB says small plane struck power lines before fatal crash in Gilroy

GILROY, Calif. -- A single-engine plane that crashed and killed two passengers near Gilroy on Nov. 8 collided accidentally with power lines and steep terrain, according to a report released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The two-seat Cessna 140A struck distribution power lines and crashed into the terrain a few hundred feet away at about 3 p.m. Nov. 8 while on a flight from Frazier Lake Airport in Hollister to Monterey Bay Academy Airport in Watsonville, NTSB officials said.

An NTSB investigation reported seeing groves from apparent contact with a wire one of the plane's wings and the propeller, which fell off of the aircraft after it had crashed.

"Braised wire striations were observed on the outboard area of the right wing and propeller," according to the report.

On Nov. 10, the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office identified the two passengers killed in the flight as Jon Richard Dennis, 69, of Gilroy, and Kiely Renee Vaca, 18, of San Jose.

The pilot was the fixed-wing plane's registered owner, identified as Dennis, who was first issued a still-valid certification for it in 1991, according to the registry of his plane the Federal Aviation Administration's website.

The flight of the Cessna, which took off from Hollister at about 2:30 p.m. Nov. 8, was a personal one for the pilot and a flight plan was not filed, according to the NTSB.

In the evening of Nov. 8, a member of Dennis' family notified that FAA of their concern that the plane carrying him and Vaca was overdue at the Monterey Bay airport, federal officials said.

The FAA then issued an alert notification for the missing plane and its wreckage was located in a heavily-wooded area about five miles north of Frazier Lake airport by search and rescue personnel, the NTSB reported.

The NTSB's investigator-in-charge who examined the accident site determined the plane crashed into steep terrain and remained intact aside from the propeller assembly that had fallen off near the main wreckage, federal officials said.

The fronts of both of the wing were damaged, the tail of the plane was still attached to the fuselage and the engine was pushed rearward into the plane, the investigator reported.

The propeller assembly showed "that one if its blades had multiple s-type bending and a small portion of the blade's tip was missing," officials reported. "The other blade was slightly bent rearward."

The investigator located evidence that the plane had struck power lines a few hundred feet from where the aircraft when down.

The power lines "were found separated near their mid-spans," the investigator stated.

"The lines were supported by two wooden H-frame pole assemblies at a distance of about 1,500 feet and spanned the valley below, about 300 feet above ground level," the official said.

Residents near the crash site "reported a power outage around the time of the accident," according to the report.

The wreckage was recovered and taken to a secure location for further investigation, the official said.
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