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N5158J accident description

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Crash location 40.666670°N, 115.866670°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Elko, NV
40.832421°N, 115.763123°W
12.7 miles away

Tail number N5158J
Accident date 18 May 1994
Aircraft type Cessna 340
Additional details: White/Orange/Brown

NTSB description


On May 18,1994, at 1551 pacific daylight time, a Cessna 340, N5158J, was destroyed following a loss of control near Elko, Nevada. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area for the personal cross country flight.

The non-instrument rated pilot received an abbreviated weather briefing at 1251 for a proposed VFR flight from Las Vegas to Elko, Nevada. The pilot was issued the requested weather for the flight and was advised that VFR flight was not recommended due to the mountain obscuration, icing, and turbulence. A departure time of 1414 was recorded by the tower at the Las Vegas McCarren Airport. A VFR flight plan was filed and activated. The last radio communications with the aircraft was at 1545, 14 miles south of Elko.

The wreckage of the airplane was located by units of the Civil Air Patrol 10 nautical miles southwest of Elko Airport near Grindstone Peak at an approximate elevation of 6100 feet, at 0655 on May 19, 1994. There were no reported witnesses to the accident.


The non-instrument rated pilot's log books had not been kept up to date as to instrument, single engine or multi engine time flown. His last biennial flight review was on July 7, 1991.


A review of the airframe and engine records did not reveal any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight. The pilot had owned the airplane since 1987.


Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area. The following in-flight advisories (AIRMETs) had been issued for Nevada: Salt Lake City, Significant Weather, AIRMET, May 18, 1994, 1945Z (SLCS WA 181945) for mountain obscuration; Salt Lake City, Turbulence, AIRMET, May 18, 1994, 1945Z (SLCT WA 181945) for turbulence and low level wind shears; and Salt Lake City, Freezing Level, AIRMET, May 18, 1994, 1945Z (SLCZ WA 181945) for light to moderate icing between 9,000 and 18,000 feet. (See enclosure.) Several residents of Elko reported a thunderstorm was passing through the area of the crash site at the time the airplane impacted the ground.


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records revealed the pilot called Reno Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on the telephone at 1251 for an abbreviated preflight weather briefing from Las Vegas to Elko, Nevada. At 1401 the pilot contacted Reno AFSS on the In-Flight frequency, while on the ground at Las Vegas McCarren Airport to file and activate a flight plan from Las Vegas to Elko. The pilot was issued a takeoff clearance at 1414.

After takeoff, Las Vegas Departure Control told the pilot to contact Nellis Approach Control. Nellis advised the pilot that radar would not be able to pick him up below 10,500, and to contact Salt Lake City (SLZ) Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), 30 miles north of Ely. At 1523, the pilot contacted SLZ ARTCC, 80 miles southeast of Elko to request the weather at Elko and also to confirm negative radar coverage. At 1544, the pilot contacted SLZ ARTCC 15 miles south of Elko, asking if the controller could pick him up. He was advised that a radar outage precluded seeing low altitude traffic and was issued the Elko altimeter. There was no further communication with the pilot.


The initial ground scar was on a downslope in mountainous terrain. The aircraft came to rest inverted 93 feet downhill from the initial scar. The upper cabin skin separated from the main structure and traveled downhill another 135 feet.

A small tree on the right side of the initial scar had some broken limbs approximately five feet off the ground, which formed a 50 degree angle. The right wing tank was found at the right side of the initial scar.

All propeller blades were broken out of their respective hubs in the direction opposite of rotation and exhibited chordwise striations and leading edge damage. Both hubs were shattered. Two of the blades, one from each propeller were buried in their respective impact craters at the initial scar.

Both engines received substantial damage; however, they remained with the airframe. All of the accessories were broken off of both engines. There was no external evidence of any pre-impact malfunction. All of the fuel cells were destroyed, and there was a post impact fire which destroyed some of the wreckage.

All of the seats were separated from the seat rails. The pilot and copilot seat belts were separated from their attachment points, but they were in the latched position. It is unknown if the shoulder harnesses were used.

All flight controls were accounted for and were attached to their respective input devices. Due to the extent of damage, flight control continuity could not be established. See enclosed wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution details.


An autopsy and toxicological tests were requested; however, the Elko Deputy Coroner stated an autopsy was not possible. Toxicological tests were positive for diphenhydramine in the liver. The liver contained 4.8 mg/kg of diphenhydramine. According to Dr. Canfield, Civil Aeromedical Institute, the level of Diphenhydramine (Antihistamine) detected in the liver is at the high therapeutic level, which could cause drowsiness. Antihistamine also masks underlying conditions and may induce vertigo. According to Dr. Salazar, Fort Worth Regional Flight Surgeon Office, it is inadvisable to fly while under its influence.


The airplane was released to the owner's representative on May 20, 1994.

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