Plane pulled from lake after crash landing: 'It could've been really bad'

LEBANON, Ore. - After spending over a week at the bottom of a lake, a single-engine Cessna plane was airlifted from the Mount Jefferson Wilderness by helicopter.

Trevor Jordan Schultz, 28, of Lebanon was piloting the aircraft Sunday, August 18, when it lost power during a trip to scout for elk hunting spots. He managed to glide to a landing on Marion Lake.

He had taken Tim Lee Miller, 47, of Lebanon, and his two children up with him during last Sunday's flight.

"We were just having a great day, and we were going to make one more loop," said Tim Miller, who was aboard the plane with his kids, Tyrel, 13 and Megan, 12. "We were getting ready to head back and that's when things kind of went south and from that point on it was just, it happened so fast.

"When we started having plane trouble to the time we wrecked was probably a minute, 2 minutes tops and we were in the water," he said. "When I hit the water and we got out, I couldn't believe we were all alive and nobody was hurt."

As their airplane sank into a mountain lake, the four people aboard safely swam to shore, where a Boy Scout troop led them out to the trailhead, the sheriff's office said.

Nearly 10 days after the crash, the U.S. Forest Service worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board to remove the plane from the lake.

The crew initially used pressurized gas to help the plane float toward the surface. A team of divers then hooked it up to a harness.

Plane-owner Roger Emmert (Schultz's uncle) was lakeside Wednesday when a helicopter team pulled the plane from the water. After seeing aerial photos of his plane in the lake, Emmert said he was hopeful that it was salvageable.

"Seeing it in the water I was really hopeful. But when they picked it up, there was a lot of water laying in the back-end... it finished it off," said Emmert. "I thought maybe there would be a chance to fix it... pretty disheartening."

Even though he was looking forward to repairing his single-prop plane, he was happy that everyone on board made it out alive.

"I'm sad, but I'm really grateful that no one got hurt. The plane is replaceable," said Emmert.

District Ranger Grady McMahan with the Willamette National Forest said airlifting the plane out via helicopter made for the smallest environmental impact.

"Marion Creek, which comes out of the lake, feeds a fish hatchery. Fortunately there were no fuel spills ... It could've been really bad, it could've killed a lot of fish," McMahan said.

McMahan said that their next step is to take the plane to a secure location and allow the National Transportation Safety Board to do a full investigation.

The Marion Creek Trailhead was reopened in time for Labor Day weekend, McMahan said.

Marion Lake location

View Marion Lake in a larger map