Occupants escape injury in Lake Tahoe plane crash
INCLINE VILLAGE-The pilot and passenger of an amphibious Cessna escaped serious injury Tuesday when the plane tipped forward as it was landing on Lake Tahoe just off Ski Beach in Incline Village.
The pilot, Glenn Lubbe, 45, of Reno, and passenger, Jeffery Rawson, 51, of Houston, climbed atop the plane’s floats and waited for help.
Neither was injured in the accident which left them both soaked and cold.
Witnesses included a mother and her sons Benjamin, 2, and Oliver, 1 month, who were in the lakeside park enjoying the fresh air.
Incline Village resident Viola Wunderling, 32, said her son Benjamin was watching the float plane’s descent when it all went bad.
“I think it came in too steeply probably,” said Wunderling. “It seemed to be landing really fast,” she said.
When the amphibious Cessna 185 was nearly at lake level, she added, the nose dipped down and under, flipping the plane.
“I heard no explosion – just the water,” said Wunderling.
She said others walking along the beach were quick to respond, calling for help on their cell phones.
The North Lake Tahoe Fire District responded with one engine, two ambulance units, and a rescue squad, along with two fire chiefs, according to District Chief Bill Metcalf.
Four Washoe County Sheriff’s cars also arrived very quickly, according to Wunderling.
The call came into the Washoe County Sheriff’s Substation at 10:01 a.m.
“A plane is down in the lake – near Ski Beach,” was the message dispatchers received.
Officials said without knowing what kind or size of plane, their only choice was to respond in force.
Also witnessing the botched landing was the pilot’s friend David Belding and his wife, who had been waiting on shore.
“We were going to meet them and go for a flight,” Belding said.
“It seems it had problems,” said Hannelore Andrews, an Incline Village resident who was walking her dog along Ski Beach as the plane nosed over into the lake. “It was quite a shock.”
“After 10 to 15 minutes,” Wunderling said, the U. S. Coast Guard boat arrived from Tahoe City, and brought Lubbe and Rawson to shore.
Wet and cold, they were able to walk to the waiting fire truck, where paramedics warmed up the vehicle while the two stripped off their wet clothes.
After warming up, Lubbe and Rawson left the scene with the Beldings.
Neither were available for comment.
One of two had slight abrasions on his forehead, Metcalf said, “but both refused medical treatment.”
A Placer County Sheriff’s Office boat patrol unit towed the inverted aircraft – with landing gear extended – from a point about a quarter of a mile from Ski Beach to as close to shore as possible.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection was working with the Coast Guard to contain any spilled fuel so it can be suctioned out of the water and then disposed of.
This was made more difficult because the aircraft is upside down and the fuel tanks are underwater.
A first glance by the hazardous materials people at the Nevada environmental agency revealed a “slight sheen” of oil on the lake’s surface.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, Pacific Built, a marine contractor in Kings Beach, had deployed a floating crane with nylon slings to hoist the Cessna out of the water.
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Winds and cooler weather will continue through the weekend, with temperatures starting to warm up next week, the National Weather Service said.