FALLON, Nev. (AP) — A pilot killed in a single-engine plane crash near Lake Tahoe was a surgeon at Naval Air Station Fallon who served in Iraq and was part of a rescue team that helped save an injured rock climber who was stranded in the Sierra a year ago.

(credit: CHP South Lake Tahoe)

Officials at the air station identified the pilot Monday as Christopher Joas, 53. The Cessna Skyhawk II he was piloting crashed July 7 in a wooded area near several homes in Meyers, California, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) southwest of South Lake Tahoe Airport. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 51-year-old passenger, Margaret McGuire, was airlifted in critical condition to a Reno hospital where she later died. She owned a shop in downtown Fallon before she recently relocated to Reno.

Air station spokesman Skip Upham said that before coming to Fallon, Joas was a surgeon at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. At Fallon, he was involved with the Longhorns Search and Rescue team, which conducted the night rescue of the rock climber near Donner Summit west of Truckee, California, on July 12, 2019, according to the Lahontan Valley News.

The climber was stranded on a steep cliff and he couldn’t be extracted by ground rescue. Joas assisted with treatment during the flight to a Reno hospital.

Upham said Joas also served at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms’ clinic at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, California. He deployed to Balad, Iraq, with the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component in 2008.


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