UPDATE: Search Called Off For Wreckage of 50-Year-Old Crash

The search of Folsom Lake lasted for almost a week before officials called it off Tuesday. The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department says that though some interesting areas were identified, none could be confirmed to actually hold signs of the crash.

Because of zero visibility and dangerous underwater obstructions, such as standing 50-60 foot tall oak trees, the search was deemed to be too dangerous and divers never hit the water.

On January 1, 1965, two planes collided about 2500 feet above the lake. One was able to make it safely back to the airport. The other fell like a rock into the lake.

There were four victims but only one body was recovered before the wreckage sank to the lake bottom.

The calling off of the search was a agreed to by both law enforcement and the family of victims.

Published January 18, 2014

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is using the low water levels in Folsom Lake to look for the remains of three victims of a plane crash that occurred almost 50 years ago.

Just after noon on January 1, 1965, officials were notified of a midair collision between a Piper Comanche and a Beechcraft Debonair. The Debonair received damage to its tail but was able to fly back to Sacramento.

However, it was a different story for the Comanche. It lost most of its right wing and fell “like a rock” from an altitude of about 2,500 feet and crashed into the lake. Officials estimate it hit the water about two miles north of the Folsom Dam.

There were four victims in the crash: 50-year-old Ford Marshall and his brother, 51-year-old James Marshall, 15-year-old Glen Ernick and Helen Gotcher. They were reportedly on a sightseeing flight.

Only the body of James Marshall was able to be recovered before the wreckage and the bodies of the other three victims sank to the bottom of the lake.

Seeing the water levels sink to their historic lows this winter, concerned residents contacted the coroner’s office and asked about a possible recovery mission. The brother of Ernick, Frank Wilcox, was contacted and information he provided helped to determine where search efforts should be concentrated.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s office and the Placer County Sheriff’s office are running the investigation with the help of the California State Parks, California State OES, the FAA and the NTSB.

A specialist has also been called in to help. Gene Ralston is a nationally renowned underwater side scan sonar operator. He and his wife are assisting with the search efforts that began on Thursday.

At this time, law enforcement officials ask that anyone not involved in the search efforts stay clear of their boats.

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