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Chinese student killed in propeller accident at Castle

CASTLE -- A flight student was killed in an accident Saturday evening at Castle Airport, the Merced County Sheriff's Department is reporting.

Sheriff's spokesman Tom MacKenzie said the student, a 26-year-old Chinese national, was killed when a plane propeller struck his head. The student's identity isn't being released until his family and the Chinese Consulate is notified.

The accident happened at approximately 6:30 p.m. Saturday, when two students returned from a flight to Visalia. The students were certified to fly either solo or with an instructor and were not supposed to be flying together, the sheriff's department said. When they landed the two-seat Cessna 150 at Castle, they saw a fuel truck and knew that if they were seen by the driver, he would report their violation to Sierra Flight School.

One student took off on foot while the victim got out of the co-pilot seat and came around the front of the plane. MacKenzie said the student was probably trying to get back into the primary pilot's seat when he misjudged the distance and was struck in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigations are being conducted by the Merced County Sheriff's Department and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Keep checking MercedSunStar for details.