Woman walks away from plane crash

south lake tahoe - A 35-year-old woman from Half Moon Bay, Calif., walked away from a plane crash near Round Lake on Monday.

The aircraft's second occupant, a man, was found dead at the crash site.

Though he had few visible injuries, he had to be extricated from the plane, according to those at the scene.

The plane was a small, experimental aircraft that refueled and took off at Lake Tahoe Airport at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, according to El Dorado County Sheriff's Sgt. Bruce Rosa.

The identities of the woman and man were not released pending notification of relatives. She was transported to Renown REgional Medical Center in Reno for multiple bone breaks.

The lake straddles El Dorado and Alpine counties between Luther and Carson passes, about 31Ú2 miles from State Route 89. The aircraft was found intact but inverted in snow near the lake at more than 8,000 feet.

A satellite picked up a signal from the plane's emergency locator transmitter and the sheriff's department was notified around 7 p.m. The satellite makes a rotation every hour and a half.

Search-and-rescue crews from Alpine and El Dorado counties joined in the search as well as three helicopters. Rescuers noticed footprints going away from the crash site and began searching for a survivor. A chopper with a five-person crew from Naval Air Station Fallon located the woman sitting on a rock around 1 p.m. about a mile from the crash. A medic was dropped to give her aid then the helicopter transported her to Reno, Rosa said.

Searchers located a backpack drug by the woman from the crash site. The slow-moving plane, perhaps a Bulldog 706X training aircraft, and backpack contained children's clothes which caused authorities to worry children may have been involved. None were found, and indications were the two adults, likely just friends, were the sole occupants of the plane, Rosa said.

Search crews accessed the crash site through Big Meadow trail head, Hawley Grade and by helicopter.

Sophie Tatlow, a 21-year-old search-and-rescue volunteer, was up at 4 a.m. Monday morning and was not stirred awake by the 6 a.m. call-out for a rescue effort. A volunteer since August, Tatlow said Monday represented the biggest rescue effort in which she participated.

"I'm going to sleep for a long time," said Tatlow, a snowshoer assigned to a dog team looking for clues.

Airport Manager Rick Jenkins knew little about the plane or its occupants. Experimental planes are common, he said, and include many different types of crafts such as former military machines.

"Typically just because it's called experimental does not (mean it) jeopardizes safety," Jenkins said.

The National Weather Service in Reno reported mild weather conditions Sunday around 4 and 5 p.m. with winds between 10 and 12 mph. The cloud ceiling was reportedly high.

Two separate investigations are underway: one regarding the plane crash and the other determining how the person died.

Rosa said at times the woman appeared to walk circles in the snow as if she were doing doughnuts.


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