Sunday, July 30, 2017

Deputy Rebecca Joan Raymond, 28, has been identified as one of two victims of the Midfield Aviation 1980 Cessna 172N Skyhawk plane crash south of Big Bear City, California. The pilot Brian White, her fiance, is the second victim.

Deputy Rebecca Joan Raymond, 28, has been identified as one of two victims of the Midfield Aviation 1980 Cessna 172N Skyhawk plane crash south of Big Bear City, California

Updated 6 mins ago
BIG BEAR, Calif. (KABC) --

A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy was identified Sunday as one of two people killed when a small aircraft crashed in a remote area of Big Bear.

Authorities were dispatched to the Apple Valley Airport around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in search of a car belonging to the victim, identified as 28-year-old Rebecca Joan Raymond.

The person who called authorities said Raymond and a man were flying from Big Bear and were overdue to land. San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies found the car at the airport and contacted the airport division for help to find the two people.

Authorities began searching the sky between the areas of the Big Bear and Apple Valley airports.

Around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, a crew found a single-engine aircraft down in a remote area of Big Bear Mountain. A flight crew member was hoisted down to the wreckage and found Raymond and the man dead.

Friends said the man was Raymond's fiance, Brian White. Debbie Payne, a close friend of the couple, said Raymond and White met two years ago at a party. White was a pilot with the U.S Army.

Payne said White had rented a plane for the weekend and took Raymond on a trip to Big Bear for their anniversary, where he proposed on Friday.

Raymond worked for the Barstow Sheriff's Station and had been with the department since September 2016.

The FAA and NTSB were contacted and will be assisting the sheriff's aviation division with the investigation.

The cause of the crash was unknown.  Eye witnesses have said that pilot error could be one of the causes of the crash.

One of two victims identified in fatal plane crash near Big Bear
Plane down south of Big Bear City

Jul 30, 2017 Updated 1 hr ago

UPDATE: July 30, 4:30 p.m. — San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies are mourning one of their own following a fatal plane crash south of Big Bear City. Deputy Rebecca Joan Raymond, 28, has been identified as one of two victims of the crash. She was a deputy assigned to the Barstow station.

An adult male also died in the crash. His name has not been released pending notification of family.

According to a press release issued by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, around 10:30 p.m. July 29 deputies at The Apple Valley Police Department were asked to respond to the Apple Valley Airport. They were asked to search for a vehicle belonging to Raymond.

Raymond and the male (Brian White, her fiance) were flying into Apple Valley and were overdue, according to authorities. The victim's vehicle was found at the airport. The Sheriff's Department Aviation Division was alerted and began a search between Big Bear and Apple Valley airports.

On July 30 the crew of Sheriff's Department helicopter 40King located a single engine aircraft down in the Sawmill Canyon area near Bear Mountain Resort. A flight crew member was hoisted to the wreckage and found the male and Raymond both deceased.

Raymond has been with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department since September 2016. It's unknown who was piloting the aircraft.

The FAA and NTSB are assisting the Sheriff's Aviation Division in investigating the cause of the crash.

The owner of the plane is listed as Patrick H. Zrelak, 63.  He is the owner of Midfield Aviation.  Midfield Aviation in the Mojave Desert of  Southern California serving pilots since 1980. The FBO is located at the north end of Apple Valley Airport. Midfield Aviation offers flight training, aircraft rentals, hangars and maintenance.  Here is their website:

UPDATE: July 30, 11:21 a.m. — The general manager of the Big Bear City Airport District, Dustin Leno, has confirmed that a single engine aircraft did crash in Sawmill Canyon. It's unknown exactly when the crash took place.

Leno said the single engine aircraft took off from Big Bear City Airport yesterday, July 29, around 2:30 p.m. At some time between then and around 9:30 a.m. July 30, authorities received a signal from an emergency locator transmitter alerting them to the crash, Leno said. It's unknown if the plane crashed shortly after takeoff July 29, or may have been returning to the airport July 30.

Leno would not confirm if the crash was fatal to those on board. He did not identify the type of plane or how many people were on board.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the airplane crash.

This is an update to an earlier post. See the original below and as more information becomes available, this story will be updated.

Emergency personnel are responding to a plan that apparently crashed in the Sawmill Canyon area of Big Bear City.

The crash site is reported to be about a mile south of Big Bear Airport. There are unconfirmed reports that there are two fatalities on board. It's unknown if the airplane had left Big Bear Airport or was approaching the local airport.

As more information becomes available, this story will be updated.


Two people — including a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy — were found dead Sunday in the wreckage of a small plane that crashed Saturday in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Rebecca Joan Raymond, 28, had been with the Sheriff’s Department since September and was assigned to the Barstow station, officials said. The name of the other victim, an adult male, has not been released.

“Feels like yesterday that Sheriff John McMahon swore Rebecca in,” the Sheriff’s Department tweeted. “It’s a tragic and sad day for all of us. May God watch over her parents.”

The search began about 10:30 p.m. Saturday after the two didn’t show up to the Apple Valley Airport — their intended destination — when they were supposed to, sheriff’s officials said in a news release. “An aerial search began immediately,” the release said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the victims were in a Cessna 172, a four-seat, single-engine airplane. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Big Bear City Airport General Manager Dustin Leno said no one saw the plane crash, but some people at the airport saw it flying low after it took off about 2:30 p.m. and became concerned. He said people were searching for any emergency signal, but those can only be picked up within line of sight of the transmitter.

About 9:30 a.m. Sunday, a San Bernardino County sheriff’s helicopter located the crashed plane. A flight crew member was lowered down and found the victims’ bodies.

Leno said the wreckage was off Saw Mill Road about a half-mile south of the airport, in an area not accessible by vehicle.

The FAA and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were at the scene Sunday; the National Transportation Safety Board, which also will help investigate the crash, will send personnel soon.

Cessna describes the 172 Skyhawk as “the ultimate training aircraft and the most popular single-engine aircraft ever built.”

Bob Hartunian, 78, of Fawnskin is a pilot who has been using the Big Bear airport for 20 years. He said one witness who saw the plane take off reported that its nose appeared to be too high — something that can lead to a stall.

There are special conditions pilots need to account for when flying in and out of the high-elevation airport, Hartunian said. It’s at 6,752 feet above sea level.

“We’ve had a lot of people go in the lake” when they fail to account for those conditions, he said.

Because the air is less dense due to the higher altitude, Hartunian said, a plane doesn’t get as much lift as it does at sea level. Pilots, he said, also have to make the plane’s fuel mix leaner. Sea-level fuel mixtures can diminish engine performance.

“You flood the engine,” Hartunian said.

Overloading the plane with too many people or too much cargo can make both situations worse, he added.

“It’s really important for people to be aware of air density, to lean your engine and not overload your plane.”


Date: 29-JUL-2017
Time: UKN
Cessna 172N Skyhawk
Owner/operator: Private
Registration: N5381J
C/n / msn: 17273771
Fatalities: Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location: near Big Bear Airport, CA - United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature: Private
Departure airport: L35
Destination airport: KAPV
Departed Big Bear enroute to Apple Valley 7/29/2017, never arrived. San Bernardino County Sheriff helicopter found wreckage on mountain side morning of 7/30/2017. The two occupants on-board the aircraft were fatally injured.

San Bernardino County Sheriff,+501+Valley+Blvd,+Big+Bear,+CA+92314/@34.2611443,-116.8525512,17z/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x80c4b437745a9985:0xd6a2fdebdb8e5803?hl=en-us


Brian White

UH60 A/L Maintenance Test Pilot Commercial Fixed Wing SEL/MEL
Helendale, California
  1. United States Army
  1. United States Army
  1. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)


  • UH60 A/L Maintenance Test Pilot

    United States Army
    – Present (2 years 1 month)
  • Army Aviator

    United States Army
    – Present (6 years 10 months)
  • UH60M Pilot In Command

    United States Army
    (2 years 7 months)
    UH60M Pilot In Command at the 101st Airborne Division.


  • Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)

    Bachelor's Degree, Aerospace: Professional Pilot
  • Ravenwood High School

    High School Diploma, General Studies
  • Brentwood High School

    General Studies