Crop duster crashes into pond near Westley and pilot escapes unhurt

WESTLEY — A pilot walked away uninjured today after his crop duster crashed shortly after takeoff into a wastewater 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 had just taken 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 located at 8513 Kern St., less than a mile east of the crash site. Company officials confirmed the pilot worked for Valley Crop Dusters but they declined to release his name and comment for this report.

The pilot was alone in the plane.

Spencer said there was a mechanical malfunction and the plane crashed into the wastewater pond. Federal Aviation Administration officials are handling the investigation into the crash.

The plane crashed upside down, but the pilot crawled out of the cockpit on his own, Spencer said. The pilot was out of the plane by the time Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the crash site, he said.

Hall said no structures were damaged.

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