BOISE – A man is facing federal charges accusing him of taking an engine from the site of a plane crash that killed a pilot, a Department of Juvenile Corrections officer and a teenager in the Idaho wilderness five years ago.
Robert Allen Lloyd is charged in U.S. District Court with picking up and dropping off material by helicopter in a forest wilderness. He’s accused of using his private helicopter to get the engine of the wrecked plane to sell for parts, said Jean McNeil, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office here.
Lloyd is scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 1, and few details were available in court documents. McNeil said Thursday that more details would be released after the arraignment.
Authorities charged Lloyd with the illegal picking up and dropping off charge because “without permission it’s illegal to use any motorized vehicle in a wilderness area,” McNeil said.
Lloyd could not immediately be reached by the Associated Press; court records did not show if an attorney is handling his case. If convicted on the single count filed July 12, Lloyd faces up to six months in prison, up to five years of probation and up to $15,000 in fees and assessments.
Lloyd was familiar with the site of the plane crash because he was involved in the investigation in some way, McNeil said – although the National Transportation Safety Board and the Idaho Department of Transportation said he was not an employee of either agency. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration could not immediately be reached.
Private contractors sometimes assist in plane crash investigations and sometimes private companies hold their own investigations into crashes.
The state-owned plane crashed near Atlanta on March 12, 2002, killing all three aboard: pilot Jay Lee Morris of Emmett, Idaho Juvenile Corrections officer William J. Mann of Caldwell, and 16-year-old Jake Jorgensen of Idaho Falls. Mann and Morris were transporting Jorgensen from an Idaho Falls detention center to a Nampa corrections center for assessment when the plane went down.
The steep, snow-covered terrain at the crash site forced investigators to delay their on-site examination of the wreckage until July 10, 2002, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s accident report. At that time, the plane’s right and left engines were both still in the wreckage.
On Nov. 20, 2002, an investigation team gathered in Boise to examine the debris from the crash site. But by then, the plane’s left engine was missing. According to the NTSB’s accident report, sometime between July 10 and Nov. 20, 2002, a hiker saw and photographed a helicopter lifting something from the mountain using a long line. The hiker turned the photograph over to the Federal Aviation Administration Security Division. But the engine wasn’t tracked down by the time the investigators gathered in November.
Jeff Stratten, a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Transportation, said this was the first time he’d heard of an engine being taken from a plane crash site. Occasionally, small items such as radios are taken from crash sites, but large items are rarely missing.
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