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Man dies in Tahoe plane crash

By July 24, 2013

A single engine airplane crashed shortly after takeoff Monday morning from the South Lake Tahoe airport, killing the pilot and injuring the passenger.

Multiple witnesses reported seeing the plane lose altitude after takeoff, a press release stated. The plane banked sharply toward woods to the east of the airport. It crashed into large pine trees and flipped over. The 1963 Mooney M20C, a single-engine, four-seat plane, came to a rest about a mile east of the airport, Adam Jensen of the Tahoe Tribune reported.

Pilot Steven Lefton, 67, of Palo Alto, was killed on impact. His wife Karen was pinned in the wreckage with moderate injuries.

While walking her dog, off-duty CalStar nurse Beth Frisby came upon the wreckage. She immediately began emergency medical assistance to Karen Lefton, comforting her for several minutes before El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies and Lake Valley Fire medics and firefighters arrived.

Ruptured fuel tanks in the wings were leaking, prompting fire personnel to spray retardant foam onto the plane while Lefton was extracted. She was flown by CalStar to Reknown Hospital in Reno.

“The wife is real lucky,” Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Van Arnum told the Tribune.

Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, South Lake Tahoe Fire, South Lake Tahoe Police and CHP also responded to the crash. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

Cole Mayer

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