Central Valley

Crop duster crashes into pond near Westley and pilot escapes unhurt

WESTLEY — A pilot walked away uninjured Thursday morning after his crop-duster crashed after takeoff into a waste-water pond about a mile northwest of Highway 33.

The crash occurred shortly after 10:30 a.m. in the pond just north of Howard Road, near some corn fields and far away from homes, said Chief Tyrone Spencer of Patterson Police Services.

The plane took off from a runway at Valley Crop Dusters Inc. and was heading west when the crash occurred, said Division Chief Steve Hall of the West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District.

The crop-dusting company is at 8513 Kern St., less than a mile east of the crash site. Company officials confirmed the pilot worked for them but would not release his name or comment for this report.

The pilot was alone in the plane, which Spencer said had a mechanical malfunction. Federal Aviation Administration officials are handling the crash investigation.

The plane crashed upside down but the pilot crawled out of the cockpit on his own, Spencer said.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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