A plane crash near Veneta that killed four Oregon Country Fair workers in June 2012 most likely resulted from the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed and altitude to clear a cluster of 100-foot-tall trees shortly after taking off from a private airstrip, the National Transportation Safety Board reported this week.
Evidence collected by crash investigators indicates the plane was traveling slowly after its throttle control had been shifted into an idle position as the single-engine craft made its initial climb, according to a probable cause report released by the NTSB, the federal agency responsible for investigating major civil transportation accidents.
The plane plummeted into a stand of trees near the privately owned Crow-Mag Airport at 24003 Suttle Road. Pilot Jerome Roch Delbosc-D’Auzon and his three passengers — all of whom lived in Lane County — were pronounced dead at the scene. The group had planned to use the plane for a scenic tour of the area.
Several witnesses reported hearing the Cessna 172’s engine lose power before crashing, but it’s possible that what they actually heard was the engine shifting from a high-power setting to an idle setting, the NTSB report states.
Investigators found no evidence of any mechanical malfunction or failure that would have prevented Delbosc-D’Auzon from operating it normally, according to the report.
Toxicology tests detected the presence of inactive metabolites of marijuana in Delbosc-D’Auzon’s blood and lung tissue, but his most recent drug use likely occurred more than five hours before the crash and was not found to have been a contributing factor, according to the report.
“Although the pilot’s use of marijuana may have affected his ability to successfully manage this flight … the exact degree of impairments in cognition, judgment and motor function could not be determined,” the report states.
Federal Aviation Administration records show that Delbosc-D’Auzon, a 41-year-old Eugene resident, obtained his commercial pilot’s license in October 2008 and was authorized to fly single- and multiengine planes, as well as helicopters.
He had reported on a recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 1,600 total flight hours, according to the crash report.
The Cessna was owned by Charles Bodie of Springfield.
In addition to Delbosc-D’Auzon, the crash killed Eugene resident Erin Thomas Frank Noble, 27, and Junction City residents Robyn Leigh Weir, 40, and Christopher Robin Kent, 37.
All four victims had volunteered at the Oregon Country Fair, a popular outdoor festival that is held every July on property just east of the wooded area in which the plane crashed.