Victims identified

investigators probe wreckage

May 23, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Military investigators this morning continued to sift through wreckage of a Navy plane that crashed Monday on the banks of the New River west of Imperial, killing the two men aboard.

Officials have released the names of the men who died in the fiery crash.

Navy Lt. Timothy L. Gilbreth, 37, of Medical Lake, Wash., was an instructor in the plane and was in the cockpit seat. Gilbreth was a member of the Strike Fighter Squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

He had been in the Navy for 10 years and was married with two children.

The second victim was Marine Corps Second Lt. Timothy G. Lawson, 29, a member of the Marine Aviation Training Support Group 23.

Lawson, from Fortuna, was awaiting flight school.

Few new details have been released about Monday's deadly crash that occurred near Thompson Road.

The plane was a T-34 Turbomentor, a fixed-wing craft used by the military for training. The plane was part of a detachment from NAS Lemoore training at Naval Air Facility El Centro.


It was unclear what caused the plane to crash.

Shortly after it was reported that a plane had gone down, the military was using a helicopter to search for victims in hopes the two men had ejected.

When it was determined they died in the crash, the helicopter crew started to take aerial shots of the scene as part of the investigation.

The military has closed off the area of Thompson Road leading to the crash site. It was unclear when the area might reopened or how long the investigation would continue.

A photographer for this newspaper at the crash site this morning said it looked like the plane compacted in the crash and the area around the plane burned.

Military officials said they were delayed from starting the investigation because of heat coming from the wreckage.

The military is asking that any witnesses to the crash contact NAF El Centro at 339-2404.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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