Tuolumne County air crash under investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused a small airplane to crash-land in a Tuolumne County forest.

Pilot Otis Russell Johnson of Truckee had to conduct an emergency landing in the Stanislaus National Forrest around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Johnson’s single engine Piper aircraft crash landed near the intersection of Forestry roads 5N02 and 5N83, about 15 miles east of Highway 4 near Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jeff Wilson said Johnson walked away from the wreckage with little more than a scratch but the plane was damaged beyond repair.

Johnson was able to make a cell phone call to rescue workers, which enabled him to be found before nightfall.

CHP helicopter H20 located the site and took Johnson to Auburn airport, according to Wilson. The airplane was seriously damaged on impact but did not ignite.

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