Heavy fog and rain appear to have contributed to a small plane crash in Tuolomne County last week that killed a 70-year-old Palo Alto man and his 60-year-old fiancee, a sheriff's sergeant said today.
Albert Halluin, the pilot, and Judy Perchonock, his passenger and fiancee, have been identified as the two people onboard the plane. They were killed instantly in the crash Friday evening, Tuolumne County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Wilson said today.
The plane, a Piper PA-32, departed San Carlos Airport and was headed for Pine Mountain Lake Airport in Groveland, about 45 miles east of Modesto in the Sierra Nevada foothills, according to J.J. Johnston, regional operations officer with the Federal Aviation Administration.
At about 7:15 p.m., the plane crashed in the backyard of a residential home about one-eighth of a mile south of the airport, Johnston said.
A preliminary investigation reveals that the foggy and rainy weather prevented Halluin's first attempt to land the plane, and when the couple tried again they may have struck a tree, Wilson said.
Contact with the tree may then have caused a fuel leakage, which could have ignited the plane, according to Wilson.
He said at least one witness reported seeing the plane on fire before it hit the ground.
National Transportation Safety Board officials remained at the site of the plane crash today. An official cause of the crash hasn't been determined, Wilson said.
Bay City News