The new thing on CTAF is to announce your last radio transmission. Really, must we? More
You may have seen actor Patrick Swayze's twin Cessna 414A on TV last week after its off-field landing in a Prescott, Ariz., subdivision. You were probably also puzzled by the initial explanation that "pressurization problems" prompted the emergency landing, since lack of cabin pressure hardly constitutes an emergency near the ground. The list of unanswered questions grew, including why Swayze disappeared from the scene for nine hours, and why he didn't land at an airport three miles away. But things became a little clearer this week when three witnesses were charged with giving false information to the Prescott Valley police. They allegedly helped Swayze remove alcohol from the plane, helped him to leave the scene before authorities arrived, and later told the police they hadn't seen a thing. No charges have been filed against Swayze.
Prescott Valley Police Department Report
Reporting Officer: D. Miller #41
#1 (Brian Nelson); FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE 13-2907.01
#2 (Joshua Angel); FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE 13-2907.01
#3 (Adam Martin); FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE 13-2907.01
2- STREET LAMPS AND POLES
1- STREET SIGN
1- STOP SIGN
1- UTILITY BOX
On 06-01-00 at 11:43 hrs. I responded to Mingus West subdivision, Highway 89A and MP #329, in reference to a report of a downed aircraft. While en route, I had dispatch contact the control tower at Prescott airport to determine if they had any reports of missing planes. Dispatch advised that they were unaware of any missing aircraft.
Upon my arrival, I observed a blue and white Cessna 414 twin engine aircraft parked at the east end of the subdivision. The aircraft had structural damage to the right wing and left wing flap. I found no one with the aircraft and the cockpit was locked. A check of the area revealed that the aircraft had landed partially on the road way, Buckshot Road, and on the south sidewalk just east of Trigger Drive. The aircraft had been traveling eastbound. This was indicated by skid marks left from the landing gear. During the landing, it impacted two street light poles, a street sign and a power/phone box prior to coming to a stop at the east end of the subdivision.
Myself and Officer Brown, also present, spoke to the property manager, John Bolstad. He stated that he had been at lunch and returned to find the plane parked with no one around. He then phoned in the report to our office.
Officer Brown went to the intersection of Shiloh Drive and Buckshot Drive where construction workers were working on a house under construction. Brown spoke to three workers later identified as Briand Nelson, Adam Martin, and Joshua Angel. All three workers stated that they had been away from the job site for lunch and returned to find the aircraft abandoned. None of the workers claimed to have seen the incident. Brown returned to my location and stated that he had been unable to find any witnesses to the incident.
I secured the scene and requested that Dispatch notify the Federal Aviation Administration of the accident. In checking the tail number of the aircraft, N414PS, I learned that the plane had a flight plan with Albuquerque NM tower and the pilot was registered as Patrick Swayze.
At approximately 1230 hours Evidence technician J. Riley arrived and began photographing the scene. While he was there, we were approached by Brian Nelson from the construction crew. He stated that he had observed the crash and that he did have personal contact with the pilot. He stated that the pilot was Patrick Swayze. He said that Swayze was shaken and said that the FAA was going to be very upset with him. He said "I've gotta get out of here" and then allegedly walked to Highway 89A along with his two dogs where he hitched a ride with a passer-by. I asked Nelson if Swayze appeared to be impaired and he stated "no". Nelson stated that the incident had occurred at approximately 1100-1130 hours. I obtained Nelson's information for a later interview and he left. At that time, I was unaware that Nelson had previously been contacted by Officer Brown and had told him that he had not witnessed any of the incident.
At approximately 1302 hours I was advised that the FAA was en route to the scene to investigate and that they had been in phone contact with Swayze. They requested that the scene be secured until their arrival.
During this time, I received a request from the National Transportation Safety Board to obtain a toxicology sample from Swayze. I informed them that we were unable to locate him at that time.
Sgt. Janik and Lt. Molinaro arrived at 1344 hours and were briefed on the incident. Sgt. Janik remained at the scene to assist me with the press that had gathered at the scene.
At approximately 1400 hours, I was able to obtain Swayze's cellular phone number from the FAA operator and attempted to contact him. I received his voice messaging system and left several messages for him to contact me immediately.
At approximately 1500 hours, I was able to reach Swayze on his cellular telephone. Swayze stated that he "was just going to call me". I asked him if he was injured and he stated "no". I asked him if anyone else was in the aircraft at the time of the crash and he stated "no, other than my two dogs". I asked him what had happened and he stated that he had been flying at 13000 feet when he experienced a pressurization problem. He stated that he made an emergency landing at what he thought was an air field. Swayze stated that after crashing the aircraft, he spoke to some construction workers and obtained a ride from one of them. I asked Swayze where he was and he stated that he was "driving around". I asked if he was still in the area and he did not reply. I advised him that I needed to speak to him in person to obtain a statement and he said he was unsure of his location. I asked him to look around to see if he saw any signs or landmarks that I could locate him by. Swayze said that he did not see anything around. He then said that the only sign he saw said "Arizona". Swayze said that he was looking for a location, such as a hotel, to "settle down" at. He stated that he would call me back as soon as he found a "land line" due to his battery power running out on his cellular phone. I advised him to re-contact me as soon as he could.
At approximately 1630 hours, Dean Hennies of the FAA arrived at the scene. I briefed him on the incident and he took control over the scene investigation. Hennies stated that he would need to board the aircraft and requested I continue to attempt to contact Swayze to obtain a key to avoid having to force entry. After several attempts to contact Swayze with negative results, Hennies ordered the NTSB recovery agent to break the lock off of the cockpit doors. He then boarded the aircraft. Hennies requested that I inspect the cockpit for any illegal items first. I checked the aircraft and found nothing illegal in the aircraft. I then exited the plane.
Hennies continued his investigation, while I periodically attempted contact with Swayze.
At approximately 2000 hours, Swayze made contact with me by phone. He stated that he was at "What-A-Burger" in Prescott and was willing to meet with me. I instructed him to drive to the Costco on Highway 69 and Walker Road where I would meet him.
At approximately 2015 hours, I met with Swayze at the Costco parking lot. Swayze appeared un-injured and was accompanied by his wife, brother, and his flight instructor. Swayze agreed to accompany me to the Prescott Valley Police Department to provide me with a statement.
We arrived at the Police department at 2030 hours and I asked Swayze to tell me what had transpired. Swayze stated that he had been having problems with the pressurization on the aircraft for approximately two weeks. He said that his wife had been flying the aircraft a few weeks prior and had what she believed was a pressurization failure. They had their repair shop working on the problem in Van Nuys since that incident. He stated that he deicded to fly the aircraft to his ranch in Las Vegas, New Mexico today due to the wildfires in that area endangering the property. He had left Van Nuys airport in California just before sun-up en route to his ranch in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Swayze stated that he was flying at approximately 1300 feet due to the past pressurization problems with the aircraft. He said that he began to receive a "pressure bump" and hearing a loud noise in the plane. He said that he immediately descended to a lower altitude and began looking for an emergency landing site. He observed, what he believed to be, a runway and he began to make an emergency landing. As he started to land, he noticed people on the "runway". He flew past them and attempted to land in the remaining distance. Once out of the plane, he was met by a construction worker who gave him a ride. He had the man drive him around while had made some calls and found a place to stay. He said that he drove by the scene, but saw all of the media and did not wish to make a spectacle out of the event.
I asked him if he had declared an emergency with the tower and he stated "no". He stated that he had an extreme amount of noise in the cockpit from the problem and could not hear the air traffic control tower. I asked Swayze if he had consumed any alcohol, prescription drugs, and/or illicit drugs prior to or during the flight. He stated "no".
During my contact with Swayze, I observed no signs of impairment, however, it had nearly been 12 hours since he was in operation of the aircraft. Swayze completed a detailed written statement on the incident.
It should be noted that by the time personal contact was made with Swayze, the minimum time required to obtain a toxicology sample under Arizona Revised Statutes had expired. Due to this, no sample was requested nor obtained.
Upon completion of the statement, Swayze requested to go to the scene. He stated that he wanted to see what type of damage had been done to the aircraft and wanted to retrieve some personal belongings.
At approximately 2140 hours, Swayze was brought into the scene. He looked at the damage and appeared shocked. Swayze was not allowed to enter the aircraft or touch anything within the scene until the NTSB investigator arrived.
At 2158 hours, Robert Crispin of the NTSB arrived on scene. Crispin spoke to Swayze, then took control of the scene.
I remained on scene to assist with security until approximately 2357 hours. Officer Ruiz maintained security of the aircraft overnight for the NTSB while the aircraft was dismantled and transported to an inspection site.
On 06-02-00 at approximately 1300 hours, I returned to the scene to obtain measurements of the property damage in order to complete a scene diagram.
On 06-06-00 I received two anonymous tips that the construction crew that Officer Brown had spoken to had lied about not seeing the crash. One tipster stated that the crew had observed the entire incident and had been overheard that day telling several people that Swayze was intoxicated. They had told several other people that Swayze thought he had landed at his ranch in New Mexico. Another tipster stated that the crew's foreman, Brian Nelson, had been telling other contractors that his crew had helped dispose of alcohol from the plane. The tipster also stated that a subject named "Gary" from Shuck Construction was at Nelson's construction site during the accident and that Gary had given Swayze a ride to his residence to avoid police. Both tipsters stated that the witnesses were now attempting to sell their story to a tabloid magazine.
I contacted Officer Brown and compared notes on who he had contacted at the construction site the day of the crash. Brown showed me his notes which included contacting Brian Nelson, the foreman who had informed me that he had witnessed the crash and had advised that Swayze had hitchhiked from the scene. Brown stated that Nelson was with two younger workers. He said that Nelson and the other two men had all told him that they had not seen anything.
I contacted Robert Crispin of the NTSB and informed him of the information we were receiving. Crispin requested that I interview anyone I could find associated with the construction crew and that he would meet with me the following morning with the FAA to conduct further interviews.
On 06-06-00 at 1900 hours I arrived at Brian Nelson's residence... in Prescott accompanied by Officer B. Mora of the Prescott Police Department. Nelson drove up while we were standing in front of his residence. As he got out of his vehicle, he asked "can I help you?". I asked him if he was present at the construction site during the time of the aircraft incident. He stated "yes". I asked him if he was asked by a Prescott Valley Police Officer if he had been there at the time of the incident. He stated "yes". I asked him what he told that Officer. He stated "I told him a lie". He stated that he told him that he was not there, but he in fact was. He stated that he and two other workers were present. I asked if he remembered talking to me, he said "yes". I asked why he had told two different stories. He stated that he was trying not to get involved. I explained to Nelson that I was going to give him the opportunity to tell me the absolute truth regarding what he saw. Nelson stated that he and two other workers, Adam and Josh, were on break at the construction site. He said that their lumber delivery person named Gary had just arrived. He said that they observed the plane circle the development at a very low altitude and then began landing on Buckshot Drive. He said that his truck was parked on the street and that the plane had nearly struck it. He said that it then bounced and impacted two light poles on the road. He said the plane than taxied to the position that we found it in. Nelson said that a member of his crew named "Adam" drove over to the plane. He came back telling them that the pilot was Patrick Swayze. He said that Swayze had given him a 30 pack of Miller Light beer that was about half empty and that Swayze had asked him to get rid of. They all went over to the plane. Once there, he saw Swayze going through the plane. He said that Swayze was rummaging through the plane looking for something. When he stepped out, Nelson recognized him. He said that Swayze's eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. He said Swazye appeared intoxicated. Nelson said that Swayze and Gary went back into the plan and retrieved a wine bottle from the rear of the aircraft. They then handed it to Nelson and he placed it into his vehicle's tool box. He said that Swayze was very upset that he was going to get in trouble with authorities and that his wife was going to be very upset. He said that Swayze wanted them to make up a story for him. They stated that "the best they could do" was to say that the pilot hitchhiked from the scene. Nelson's crew then left to go back to the job site. Nelson said that Gary then drove Swayze from the scene and told Nelson that he was going to take him to his house.
Nelson stated that he had initially lied about the time of the crash in stating that it had actually at approximately 1000 hours.
I asked Nelson what happened to the beer taken from the plane. He stated that he and his crew drank it the next day. I asked where the wine bottle was and Nelson replied "on my mantle". I advised him to retrieve it for me. Nelson went inside and returned almost immediately with a wine bottle with approximately 1/8 of the contents remaining. Nelson stated that he had not drank any of it, however, he and his wife had both touched it. I took custody of the winde bottle and later impounded it into evidence. I informed Nelson that I would be returning to his job site the following day with Federal Authorities to obtain written statements from him and his crew. I advised him not to let anyone know that he had spoken to me. Prior to leaving, Nelson gave me telephone number for "Gary". It should be noted that Nelson had to obtain the number for Gary from a friend as he apparently didn't now Gary outside of work.
On 06-06-00 at 2100 hours, I made contact with "Gary", later identified as Gary Bruso, via telephone. Gary was advised that I needed to speak to him in reference to a plane crash. He agreed to speak to me without any further explanation. At approximately 2130 hours, I met with Bruso at his residence, .... Bruso appeared very nervous and concerned. I asked him what he knew regarding the plan crash that occurred at Mingus West. Gary gave the same version of the vent that was obtained from nelson. He further advised that he had located the wine bottle in the rear of the cockpit after being asked by Swayze to help him find it. Gary said that Swayze thought he had landed near his ranch in New Mexico and appeared unaware that he had even collided with anything. He stated that he had driven Swayze from the location to his residence.... Bruso stated that Swayze was very worried and had immediately called his lawyer, publicist, then his wife. Gary's wife came home at approximately 1330 hours and told Gary to get him out of their home before he got into trouble. Gary then drove Swayze to the crash site, however, Swayze told him to turn around when they observed the police on scene. He then drove him around "a while". He said that at the point in which Swayze spoke to me on his phone, they were parked at the Motel 6 in Prescott Valley. He stated that he knew where they were and was simply avoiding authorities. Gary said that every time Swayze was called on his cellular telephone by authoriteis, he would say "I was just about trying to call you". Gary eventually drove Swayze to The Best Western Prescottonian on Gurley Street in Prescott. They arrived there at approximately 1615 hours. Gary then checked Swayze into room #137 and left. Bruso stated that Swayze appeared to be intoxicated.
A subsequent check of the registration record at the Prescottonian revealed that room #137 was checked into on 06-01-00 at 1600 hours under the name of "John Sylva". I later confirmed through Bruso's attorney that "John Sylva" was the name he used to register the room for Swayze.
On 06-07-00 at 1030 hours, I met with Robert Crispin of the NTSB and FAA Investigator Dean Hennies at the Prescott Valley Police Department. I briefed them on the information that I had gathered and provided them with copies of Bruso's statement. We then proceeded to the construction site in Mingus West where we met with Brian Nelson, Adam Martin, and Joshua Angel. Crispin interviewed all three subjects. All three all confirmed the information given by Bruso and Nelson on the previous day. All three agreed that Swayze appeared extremely intoxicated and all admitted to destroying the evidence from the plane. Crispin requested that they meet us at the Prescott Valley Police Department at 1500 hours to give written statements. They all agreed to do so.
At approximately 1400 hours Nelson, Martin and Angel arrived at the Prescott Valley Police Department. I explained to all three that they were not under arrest, but could face possible charges as a result of their actions. I read all three of the subjects their rights per Miranda. Nelson was read his rights at 1412 hours and agreed to complete a written statement. Martin was read his rights per Miranda at 1420 hours and agreed to complete a written statement. Angel was read his rights per Miranda at 1426 hours and agreed to complete a written statement. All three then provided independent written statements which are attached to this report. While they were at the station, Officer Brown positively identified all three as the workers who had provided false information to him at the scene. Following the statements, the subjects were allowed to leave.
On 06-08-00 at 0900 hours I met with prosecutor B. Todd to allow him to review the case. After review of the case, it was determined that Nelson, Martin and Angel were to be charged with providing false information to police. Todd advised that no charges would be filed against Swayze due to the lack of substantive physical evidence impairment to meet Arizona Revised Statutes. Charges were deferred to the FAA/NTSB.
On 06-08-1000 hours I contacted Nelson, Martin and Angel at their job site. All three were cited and released for FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE 13-2907.01. All further investigation turned over to FAA/NTSB.
This photo was taken on a C-182 flight from Alabama to El Paso. All in all, it was a 10.1 hrs adventure. We skirted just south of Guadelupe Peak, entering ELP from the east at 12,500 feet. Copyrighted photo by Robert Wannenburg.