Pilot’s Demise at Grout Bay


     Investigator viewing experimental Sonic plane crashed at Grout Bay Big Bear Lake   PHOTO BY Richard Millener 

UPDATE:  October 23, 2014 – The pilot of the plane has been identified by the San Bernardino County Coroner as, Walter "Clare" Lutton, 60, Columbus, Ohio

   E T Russell ____ An experimental Sonic plane occupied only by the pilot took off in a westward direction from the Big Bear Airport runway, Monday morning about 10:20 A.M. According to those at the airport, they observed the aircraft experiencing unknown problems causing the plane to go down on the shoreline of Big Bear Lake, Grout Bay Campground in the community of Fawnskin. Immediate response from the nearby San Bernardino County Fire emergency team arrived on the crash site, finding the male pilot deceased at approximately 10:46 A.M. It was determined that there were no other passengers in the plane.  Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration along with the San Bernardino County Aviation Division and San Bernardino County/Big Bear Deputy Sheriff Jim Wijnhamer are investigating the cause of the accident. The FAA identified Steve M. Morris as the registered owner of the aircraft; who resides in Bayside in Humboldt County, California. 

When the scanner alert at 10:49 A.M announced the down plane in the Fawnskin area, several media were at a press conference at Glory Ridge. Caltrans PIO Teri Kasinga had called the media to be on scene of the Cessna 172S that crashed Thursday in the canyon below State Route 18. Those at that site already since early morning were: San Bernardino County Fire PIO Mark Peebles, ROTW News Editor Michael Neufeld, Channel 5 KTLA, Big Bear Lake News Room Editor E T Russell and Photographer Richard Millener. After witnessing the Cessna rescue by helicopter, the press representatives disbanded to the Fawnskin incident.

An autopsy is in process to determine the exact cause of death. The Sonic pilot's name will be released when the positive identification has been completed by the San Bernardino County Coroner.  

For information about the Cessna crash, visit: http://www.bigbearlake.net/etnews/sr18-plane-crash-recovery-