Julian Plane Crash Not Investigated Due to Shutdown

The government shutdown is putting some plane crash investigations on hold, including the probe into a deadly crash in San Diego County.

Roberta Ann Rose, 52, and Andrew William Thulin, 55, died Wednesday after their single-engine plane crashed into a rugged hillside on Volcan Mountain near Julian.

Five days after the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to visit the crash site or start an investigation.

"The people who would normally be doing this investigation would be NTSB and FAA. With government furlough, they are not going to be sending representatives down here," San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Jan Caldwell said during an interview Thursday.

More than 2,900 FAA inspectors have been furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that has stretched into a second week, including 20 in San Diego.

"We still don’t know if there was a mechanical problem," said John Wilfong, a retired FAA air traffic controller.

Wilfong said he’s frustrated by the furlough because time is of the essence for investigators.

"They collect any kind of samples around that airplane, in the airplane and preferably the black box," he said.

Linda Goodrich, the vice president of  Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, said "any accident that was an air carrier" would still trigger an investigation despite the furloughs.

“Maybe somebody of high visibility is on the airplane or presumed to be on the airplane,” Goodrich, whose union represents FAA investigators, added. “That would probably be the two triggers."

Goodrich said furloughed investigators want to help, but are sidelined by the shutdown.

“A good word is outraged, outraged over the fact that aviation safety and the safety of the public is going second to politics."

Goodrich said she feels terrible for the victims’ families in the Julian crash because her organization can’t answer their questions.

The family of Roberta Rose told NBC 7 shortly after the crash that they were frustrated because they had no contact with federal and regional agencies that normally provide information to the victims’ families. They said they found out about their daughter’s death from a friend.

Meanwhile, the shutdown is impacting other agencies that monitor disasters as well. About 30 seismologists and other experts at the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Southern California have been furloughed. The USGS Web site has also been taken offline. Officials said they will continue monitor and report earthquake activity, but accuracy and timeliness could be affected.

Contact Us