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Airplane crash kills pilot near Steamboat Rock

Updated 5/28/14 at 1:40 p.m.


Last updated 5/28/2014 at 4:39pm

Kenneth A. Berger and the plane he built and died in Saturday. Photo provided by the Monroe Monitor

An airplane accident killed a man on Banks Lake near Steamboat Rock Saturday.

Kenneth A. Berger, 60, of Monroe, Wash. was an accomplished pilot, attorney and longtime city councilman who built his plane from a kit, according to the Monroe Monitor.

Berger had already put down his SeaRey LSX amphibious plane at about 5 p.m., witnesses said. They said he apparently was trying to take off again, when the plane flipped over forward into the water.

Nearby boaters got to the craft, and two women at the Northrup Point boat launch said they had been approaching to offer CPR but were turned back by men who had recovered the pilot from underwater and said he was already dead with an obvious head injury.

Boaters reportedly dove under the water to get the pilot out of the plane.

They got him to a waiting ambulance at the boat launch.

Witnesses told sheriff's deputies the plane had attempted to take off but struck a wave, then the nose of the aircraft hit the water, Grant County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kyle Foreman said.

The plane eventually sank in about 50 feet of water.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. The county coroner staff will perform an autopsy.

Berger once made an emergency landing in a wilderness lake in another aircraft, eventually raised it from a depth of 230 feet, restored it and flew it again after renaming it after that Lake Isabel, the Monitor said.

Read the Monitor's story on Berger here.


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