Factual report released on Beck crash
October 29, 2008
A recently released factual report by the National Transportation Safety Board on the July 2 airplane crash that took Clayton Beck’s life found no mechanical failures in the plane, heavy smoke in the Sierra Valley, but draws no conclusions.
The investigation included the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department where the missing person report was filed, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department where the death occurred and the safety board, which is investigating the crash, said Sheriff-Coroner John Evans with the Sierra County office.
“For our part we determined the cause of death ” massive multiple blunt-force trauma from crashing into the ground and trees ” we determined the death as an accident,” Evans said.
According to safety board officials, it could take up to a year before a final report with the cause of the accident is released, but the factual report included observations on the conditions the day of the crash, on the mechanics of the aircraft, and on Beck’s condition.
The report states no mechanical failures have been pin-pointed as the cause of the accident.
Two potential witnesses were listed in the report.
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“One witness, located about 18 miles southeast of the accident site stated that he had to momentarily pause his telephone conversation until the airplane passed overhead,” according to the release.
Another witness 12 miles southeast of the crash said she observed an airplane turning south when she lost sight of the plane, and said she didn’t hear anything except for a “swooshing sound” that caught her attention.
While the sky was clear at Truckee Tahoe Airport that day, wildfire smoke reduced visibility in the Sierra Valley down to 1/4 or 1/2 mile, according to the report.
“I can attest to that,” Evans said. “It was a fire in Plumas County blowing up the Feather River into the Sierra Valley.”
According to the report, toxicology tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute turned up ethanol (alcohol) in Beck’s blood, organs, and muscle, but notes that the chemical may have been a result of decomposition.
“Basically depending on temperature and development of decomposition blood alcohol can go up or down, there are a lot of variables involved,” Evans said.
Clayton Beck, 37, was a fixture in the local skiing community and trained Olympians Johnny Mosely and Shannon Bahkre.
He recently was a skiing coach at Alpine Meadows.
The report can be found at ntsb.gov.