Published January 17, 2014
One man's quest to find his lost brother has led search crews to scour a California lake for victims of a mid-air plane collision that occurred nearly 50 years ago.
Frank Wilcox was a baby when his 15-year-old brother, Glen, took a sightseeing tour over Folsom Lake on New Year's Day in 1965. The plane collided with another aircraft and went down in the 18-square-mile lake, which is about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento. Efforts to recover the plane and its three passengers were never successful, Fox affiliate KTXL reported.
Now, with the lake's water levels at a historic low, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department hopes to use high-tech sonar equipment to search the water for the plane's wreckage and victims' bodies.
"I'm going to find him and get him out of here," Wilcox told KTXL.
The dropping lake levels has made the quest possible but also posed an unexpected problem: launching the search boats into shallow, murky water.
Divers were prepared Thursday to go into the water if sonar equipment detected anything believed to be wreckage. The search is continuing Friday.
"It's important because every person deserves to be laid to rest in a dignified manner," the sheriff's department told the station. "We intend to try and do that for the families involved."
Glen was a star athlete in his freshman year of high school and had joined a friend for his first plane ride when the accident occurred. The red and white Piper Comanche he'd boarded at Phoenix Field in Fair Oaks collided with the Beechcraft Debonair, which was also on a sightseeing flight out of Sacramento. The Debonair managed to make it back to the airport, but the Comanche plummeted 2,500 feet into the water.
An official NTSB crash report blamed both pilots for failing to see one another.
Other victims in the crash included James Marshall, Ford Marshall and Helen Gotcher, according to a Roseville Press-Tribune article from 1965.