Two injured in Tuesday plane crash

A pilot and his passenger were pulled from the mangled wreckage of a single-engine airplane near Minden-Tahoe Airport about 8:50 a.m. Tuesday.

The pilot, who is also believed to be the owner, was identified as William Krens, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. His passenger was identified as Donald Brawley.

Both men were taken by Care Flight to Washoe Medical Center. Krens sustained head and facial injuries. Brawley had broken ribs at the least. Neither man is local.

According to eyewitnesses the plane crashed about 8:30 a.m., shortly after takeoff.

The plane, a two-seat experimental called a Comp Air 6, landed upside down just a few yards west of Bliss Road opposite the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center.

The cockpit was separated from the fuselage and the debris was scattered in the sage. The plane was southbound when it hit the ground at what looked like about a 60-degree angle.

It was flying at a 20-degree bank to the left before it crashed, according to eyewitness Mike King, chief pilot for the Department of Wildlife Air Operations.

He said he only saw the last 25 feet of the flight.

"The plane looked like it had stalled. It wasn't in a flying attitude," he said.

The plane appeared to be struggling as it took off northbound, according to eyewitness Gordon Campbell. He was working near the accident.

"The plane was gaining a little altitude but it was barely moving," he said. "It banked to the left before it lost power. Then, the engine just quit. I heard the power go out and then there was a bunch of dust."

Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Mick Doan said witness accounts indicated the plane took off from the airport heading north.

"The engine started to sputter as the pilot attempted to gain altitude. The plane flipped upside down and landed that way, on its roof," Doan said.

The occupants were conscious when they were removed from the wreckage, but "pretty severely injured," Doan said.

The county's hazardous materials team was monitoring a fuel spill.

Doan said the gas tanks were located in the wings and when the support struts broke in the crash, the fuel tanks were punctured. Members of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District responded to the crash, which is under investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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