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  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    The management of water remaining in Folsom Lake is the cause of much tension in the Sacramento region.

  • Photo illustration by Daniel Hunt / dhunt@sacbee.com

    A clipping from the Jan. 3, 1965, edition of The Sacramento Bee shows Placer County Sheriff’s divers Bruce Johnson and Frank Young searching for the plane that crashed into Folsom Lake after colliding with another plane two days earlier, killing four aboard. Nearly 50 years later, searchers have taken to the receded waters of the reservoir to search for remnants of the aircraft and three bodies that were never recovered.

Search underway at Folsom Lake for wreckage from 1965 plane crash

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 - 8:02 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 - 8:31 am

A couple who used sonar to find the body of a woman missing in the Delta earlier this month are now searching Folsom Lake for the wreckage of a plane that crashed in 1965.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department announced that Gene and Sandy Ralston are assisting the department in a search on behalf of Shingle Springs resident Frank Wilcox, whose brother was aboard the plane when it crashed on Jan. 1, 1965. Four people were aboard the plane, but only one body was recovered at the time.

Sheriff’s officials said the department was recently contacted by members of the public regarding the crash. The Coroner’s Office subsequently contacted Wilcox, who provided more historical information about the crash and a possible location of the wreckage. That information indicated the wreckage could be within El Dorado County’s jurisdiction, and Sheriff John D’Agostini offered his office’s support for the search, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

The plane carrying pilot Ford Marshall, 50, of Roseville; his brother, James Marshall, 51, of Southern California; Helen Gotcher of Roseville; and Glen Emick, a 15-year-old Roseville High School football player, plunged into the lake following a midair collision with another plane, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee.

The other plane, piloted by Curtis Metcalf of Sacramento, was damaged but remained airborne and landed safely at what is now Sacramento Executive Airport, which had been cleared for an emergency landing. Neither Metcalf nor his two passengers were injured.

An eyewitness, a federal Bureau of Reclamation employee at Folsom Dam, said Marshall’s plane “fell like a rock” after the collision at an altitude of 3,000 feet, according to The Bee account. The plane reportedly went into the water off Beals Point, about 2 miles from the dam.

Both planes were on pleasure flights over the lake. Marshall had taken off from the Phoenix Airport in Fair Oaks, where Gotcher’s sons were waiting for the plane to return. It wasn’t until late afternoon that it was determined that it was Marshall’s aircraft that had crashed.

Only James Marshall’s body was recovered.

The Ralstons launched their search Thursday, with the El Dorado and Placer County sheriff’s departments providing logistical support and security at the scene. Officials ask that other boaters on the lake remain clear of the boats involved in the search.

The goal, sheriff’s officials said, is to find the crash victims’ bodies so that they can be laid to rest in a dignified manner.


Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke



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