Search continues for 1965 plane wreckage in Folsom Lake, California

3:21 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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Sacramento, Calif. (KXTV) -- Search crews hope Folsom Lake's low water levels will give them a hand in finding the wreckage of a plane that went down in the lake in 1965.

The crash killed four people, but only one victim has ever been recovered. For the third straight day, El Dorado County and Placer County sheriffs' deputies were back at the lake looking for clues.

Under normal conditions no one would be able to walk out as far as boats can now launch, but drought conditions have given search teams a head start to try to recover the small plane and its crew.

"Currently, with the water level being as low as it is, we have the right depth, and we have the right weather conditions," volunteer diver Chris Anthon explained. "Everything cooperating, we're able to get down a lot deeper and see a lot more."

Anthon is one of 10 volunteer divers who were out on the water Saturday.

"My expectation is that the tail half of the plane is off, that we have one wing and the fuselage intact, deteriorated of course, and the possibility of two, if not three bodies, within it," Anthon said.

Finding it will be difficult with visibility already a challenge. Unlike the tree stumps now visible from the lake bed, beneath the water is a different picture.

"The problem with it is the trees being that they're full growth Oaks and Cypress trees, there's a lot of noise that that creates on the sonar, and so that actually creates a white filter, so they're not able to get down to the depth," Anthon said.

But that's not the only problem. The three boats using sonar are identifying points of interest, but Anthon said he and the rest of the divers don't know where those points are.

"We are willing to assist them to dive down to the locations which they identify and verify if it is or if it is not," Anthon said. "Currently, they're identifying it, and they're keeping the information to themselves."

In a statement sent to News10, a spokesperson for the El Dorado County Sheriff stressed that the volunteer divers were not part of their joint operation with Placer County.

"The goal of the operation [Saturday] is for any signs of the plane crash and/or victims to be located in the safest and most efficient manner possible," the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said deputies have wrapped up initial efforts. The sheriff's department said they were able to gather a lot of information from the sonar, but more work is needed before they feel safe putting divers in the areas they've searched.

Nonetheless, Anthon said his group will continue their search as long as they can until the wreckage is found.

"The biggest part to the reward will be for us to give that back to the family to allow them to have closure," Anthon said.

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