Gruenther crash to be probed

Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat

Air Force officials are still unsure what caused the Monday airplane accident that killed Capt. Lucas Gruenther, of Twain Harte.

Maj. Erick Saks, spokesman for the 31st Fighter Wing in Italy, said Thursday that a board of officers will investigate.

"We're going to do everything we can do to find out what happened," he said.

The accident occurred about 8 p.m. during a training exercise over the Adriatic Sea. Gruenther, flying an F-16, lost contact with the Aviano Air Base. The Associated Press reported that visibility was poor at the time.

A massive international search effort followed. Search teams found debris from Gruenther's plane Tuesday, including his helmet and parachute.

Gruenther's body was recovered Thursday afternoon by an Italian vessel, according to the 31st Fighter Wing.

The Wing's commander expressed condolences to Gruenther's family.

"Capt. Gruenther was an outstanding officer who epitomized what it means to be an Airman," Brig. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist said in a statement. "He was not only a first-rate pilot; he was an exceptional leader whose presence will be sorely missed. ...Words cannot adequately express how sorry we are for your loss."

Gruenther's wife, Cassy Gruenther, is in Italy and a few weeks away from delivering the couple's first child - a girl named Serene.

Both Cassy and Lucas Gruenther graduated from Summerville High School in 1999.

Gruenther served six months in Afghanistan before being stationed in Italy.

11888632
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Tuesday February 21, 2017

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Tuolumne County residents plan McClintock protest

02/16/2017

People on both sides of the polarized political spectrum in Tuolumne County ... more

Authorities ID driver in fatal J59 wreck

02/17/2017

A Sonora doctor has been identified by the California Highway Patrol as ... more

Jury acquits Barrett on two charges

02/17/2017

A Calaveras County Superior Court jury found Jeremiah Barrett not guilty Friday ... more

Lode gets ‘Vaxxed’

02/14/2017

A black tour bus promoting the 2016 documentary “Vaxxed: from Cover-up to ... more