Tahoe Plane Crash Kills Pilot Steven Lefton: What Caused Lake Tahoe Disaster?

By Staff Reporter on July 23, 2013 11:53 PM EDT

Tahoe plane crash
A Lake Tahoe plane crash claimed the life of 67-year-old pilot Steven Lefton and injured his wife. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A Lake Tahoe plane crash killed 67-year-old Steven Lefton and injured his wife Karen on Monday. Lefton was the pilot of the Mooney M20 small propellor aircraft.

Steven Lefton took off from Lake Tahoe Airport at approximately 11:15 a.m. Witnesses saw the Lake Tahoe plane crash unfold as the aircraft banked to the right, lose altitude, and crash less than a mile east of the airport. The Sacramento Bee reports that the plane had plowed through trees and flipped, landing upside down.

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Local news reported that the surviving woman was trapped under the crashed plane's debris and could not emerge from the wreckage until the emergency team extracted her. the survivor was airlifted to Renown Medical Center of Reno. Doctors expect the woman to recover from the injuries.

Castar flight nurse Beth Frisby was hiking nearby and was able to race to the scene of the Lake Tahoe plane crash. Her husband, El Dorado County Sheriff deputy Damian Frisby, tracked her location via phone GPS and dispatched more personnel to the location.

While the exact cause of the terrible Lake Tahoe plane crash is unclear, El Dorado County Sheriff Lt. Pete VanArnum presented revealed a number of concerns.

"A lot of fuel was leaking, so we were concerned when we got here," said VanArnum. Workers at the Lake Tahoe plane crash site were lucky that the airplane did not explode or cause overwhelming fire.

Finally, in an effort to identify the cause of the crash, VanArnum suggested that high temperatures and low density were the culprits of the crash. "It's a fairly powerful plane, but on a hot day like this, it's fairly easy to lose density altitude and have problems," said VanArnum.

The FAA and NTSB will continue on with the investigation of the crash.

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