Concord, CA Private Plane Crashes, Jul 1984


Concord (AP) - Federal officials have begun the painstaking process of learning why a twin-engine plane crashed, just missing a Concord auto dealer's showroom, and killed all six aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigator Wally Funk to Concord Saturday afternoon shortly after the plane smashed into a shed at Shepherd Pontiac-Honda and burst into flames.
"She was interviewing witnesses to see what they observed, looking at air traffic control tapes and examining the propellers," James Sundeen, chief of the safety board's Los Angeles office said in an interview Sunday.
He said Mr. Funk "examines systems
for what can be found" and hasn't completed that task yet.
Sundeen said neither he nor the investigator will decide what caused the accident.
"Our position within the organization is only to do a factual examination of the accident
and write a factual report," Sundeen said in an interview Sunday. "The analysis of those facts is done in Washington D.C."
Dave Thompson, a licensed pilot, said one engine apparently stopped when the Piper Cheyenne Turboprop was less than 300 feet from the ground. Thompson said he saw the plane begin to tip over, nosedive and spiral.
He said the pilot seemed to regain some control and flew over a parking lot behind the dealership.
The plane narrowly missed the car dealer's body shop as it crashed into the storage shed, burst into flames and burned everyone aboard beyond recognition.
"He was starting to recover but didn't finish it," Thompson said.
"He tried to come back, but the handwriting was on the wall. He bought the farm with his life."
Several mechanics were working in the body shop a few feet from the spot the flaming plane stopped. About 50 customers and 28 employees
were in the showroom and offices at the time, said general manager Robert A. Olson.
However, no one on the ground was injured.
The Contra Costa County coroner's office still was trying late Sunday to positively identify the charred remains.
However, a friend, Marty Pasetta, Jr. of Lost Angeles, said three of the victims were from West Germany and three were from the Los Angeles area.
Pasetta identified those killed as KLAUS SCHROTER, about 45; his daughter, ANITA SCHROTER, 17, and his nephew, JENS SCHROTER, 18, all of Dortmund, West Germany.
WERNER H. SCHENK, 47, and WERNER SCHENNK, JR., 21, both of Santa Monica, and LIZETTE NEVEREZ, 23, of Los Angeles.
Pasetta said the Germans flew the plane from Germany to Los Angeles and left Santa Monica Airport Saturday to do some sightseeing in San Francisco with friends, he said.
Sundeen said the initial information he received was that two planes were in a landing pattern, and the one that crashed followed a single-engine plane down.
However, Glen Gourley, chief controller at the Federal Aviation Administration Tower in Concord, said Sunday that no plane was involved in the accident except the one that crashed.
"There was no other airplane in the area," Gourley said. "One plane ahead of him landed on the other runway pretty close to the same time. But really, there was no other airplane in his area."
Gourley said the Piper Cheyenne was making a "normal pattern entry" and exchanged landing instructions with the tower "just like any other airplane."
There was no distress call from the plane, Gourley added, but "as soon as we lost sight of him, we called the fire department."

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1984-07-16