Small-plane crash kills ER doctor from Cameron Park

A small-plane crash Friday in rural Humboldt County killed an emergency-room physician who was commuting to work from his home in El Dorado County.

Douglas Todd Pleatman, 59, of Cameron Park was the pilot and sole occupant of the plane that crashed into the south fork of the Eel River near Garberville, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office said in a news release.

Pleatman was the chief emergency-room doctor at Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, the agencies said. Garberville is a community of about 900 residents along Highway 101.

Pleatman regularly commuted to his job there by airplane, the agencies said.

He lived in Cameron Park, a community in El Dorado County near Highway 50 where some residents are airplane commuters.

Public records show Pleatman lived in Cameron Airpark Estates, a community adjacent to an airport where wide streets double as taxiways and oversized garages serve as airplane hangars.

No one answered the phone at Pleatman’s house Saturday. A neighbor reached by The Sacramento Bee declined to comment.

Humboldt County officials did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment.

State medical license records show Pleatman also worked at Urgent Care Center of Folsom.

The center’s website features a photograph of Pleatman, a trim man with gray hair and mustache, along with a brief biography.

“Dr. Pleatman is an instrument-rated private pilot, flies a Piper Comanche and is a member of the Sheriff’s Air Squadron,” it says. “He is also a national champion skydiver and a former member of a professional air show team.”

A Piper PA-24-250, made in 1961 and commonly known as a Comanche, was registered to Pleatman at an address in Central Point, Ore., in 2012.

A Eureka newspaper, the Times-Standard, had a photo of the partially submerged, red-and-white plane in the Eel River and quoted local law enforcement officials as saying it would remain there until federal investigators arrived.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, the Sheriff’s Office said in its statement.

Call The Bee’s Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.