Plane crash ends sexual misconduct investigation
summit daily news
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove the name of the accused. Summit Daily’s new crime reporting guidelines suggest not naming the accused until charges are formally filed and, in some cases, withholding the name of the accused in sexual assault cases to protect the identity of the victim(s).
SILVERTHORNE — A ski coach under suspicion of sexual misconduct involving minors at a hotel in Silverthorne and in other states has died in a plane crash near Lake Tahoe, Calif., police disclosed.
The man was killed July 6 in the single-engine plane crash.
Silverthorne police had been investigating the man about allegations of unlawful sexual contact since learning in May of an incident reported to have occurred in November 2007.
A member of the Tahoe-based freestyle-skiing team accused the coach of touching the youth inappropriately while the skier was sleeping in a shared room.
The incident closely resembled other complaints lodged against the coach by juveniles in Utah and California.
A lifelong resident of Tahoe-Truckee, the man coached freestyle for the past 11 years, including coaching athletes to medals in national championships and Junior Olympics.
According to the Sierra Sun, the man took off from Truckee Tahoe Airport around noon on July 2 and was reported missing by family when he didn’t return.
A subsequent search found the wreckage and the man’s remains near Sierraville, Calif.
“The airplane hit pretty large trees and started to fragment from there,” said Joshua Cawthra, investigator-in-charge with the National Transportation Safety Board. “The wing and engine were separated during the impact. …”
Safety Board investigators are interviewing witnesses and piecing together airplane controls as part of the investigation into the crash.
A more thorough inspection of the aircraft will look at the engine, fuel system, flight instruments and the radio for any clues as to the cause of the crash, Cawthra said. “We will be going through every system on the airplane,” he said.
Beyond looking into the aircraft, Cawthra said he will investigate the man’s flight experience, health, the weather conditions the day of the crash, and take witness statements.
“We do have a few witnesses,” Cawthra said.
The investigation could take between six months and a year, he said, and shortly thereafter the safety board would make a finding of probable cause.
Greyson Howard and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 668-4618, or at email@example.com
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