Downed plane recovered from Lake Palestine

Published on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 16:46 - Written by AUGUSTA ROBINSON, augustarobinson@tylerpaper.com

About three years after a fixed wing, single-engine plane carrying an East Texas man and his son crashed into Lake Palestine, a local private investigator and a scuba diving team have recovered the plane.

On Monday, private investigator Brian West, owner of Summit Investigations and Imaging, a full criminal and civil investigation agency that specializes in underwater, and scuba divers from the International Alert Academy worked to pull the plane out of the lake.

The plane crashed in July of 2014 after the left wing stalled.

The plane hit the water at going more than 120 miles per hour, West said. The pilot spent six to eight months in the hospital with a compound fracture in his right leg, while his son sustained a sprained wrist and ankle, West added.

“Eyewitnesses said he crashed about 50 feet behind a cigar boat that was going in the water,” he said. “They are both lucky to be alive.”

After the accident, West was hired to retrieve the plane. He said it took several months for him to locate the plane because he'd been given several different coordinates for where the plane had gone down. Once he knew the location, he was able to work on a game plan.

The plane was located about one a quarter mile northeast of the dam at Lake Palestine, near the lake's center, West said.

The project required high-powered lights, a 500-pound lift bag, a boat that helped pull the plane and other equipment.

West said the divers, who were led by Captains Mike Harmon and Mike Gast, worked in just about zero visibility while underwater and had to go by feel to attach the equipment that pulled the plane out of the lake.

About eight hours later, the group’s efforts were successful.

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