2 LA County men killed when plane goes down near Rancho Camulos

July 11, 2012
Santa Paula News

Two Los Angeles County men were killed instantly Thursday, July 5, when the single-engine plane they were in went down east of Piru across Highway 126 from historic Rancho Camulos, near East Telegraph and Santa Paula Canyon roads.

The TL Ultralight StingSport, a two-person, fixed-wing aircraft, was reported to be spiraling down out of control by motorists on Highway 126, who started calling 911 at 1:24 p.m. The plane crashed in a clearing near citrus orchards about 50 yards from a cluster of farmhouses; the aircraft’s wreckage covered a 25-yard area, but there was no fire on impact.

Emergency responders had to wait for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad to arrive on scene to deactivate a small rocket device used to deploy the plane’s parachute in the event of an air emergency. Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office and Ventura County Fire personnel extricated the victims’ bodies from the plane at about 3 p.m.

It is not known why the parachute did not activate.

Harry Bell, 89 of Newhall, and Michael Boolen, 59 of Pacoima, were declared dead at the scene of the crash. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department noted in a statement that the plane was “destroyed” upon impact.

The men had taken off from Whiteman Airport in Pacoima and were expected to return there. Bell, the owner of the plane that crashed, was a well-known and active member of the Newhall community. Both men were longtime pilots. 

Boolen had suffered third-degree burns and other injuries in a 1997 crash near Whiteman Airport. He survived, but a flight student and a second man were killed when the plane crashed into two houses shortly after takeoff.

It was unknown what caused the recent crash, and the Federal Aviation Agency and National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating.

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