Body of Pilot, Plane Recovered From Lake Tulloch

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LAKE TULLOCH -- Search crews pulled a small plane from the bottom of Lake Tulloch Tuesday after it crashed into the water Sunday morning.

The pilot's body was inside the plane, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office.

Trent and his three sons. Left to Right, Shelby Johnson (age 18), Trent Johnson, Will Johnson (age 18) and Ryan Johnson (age 21) The photo was taken this May 31 at the twin's graduation at Johansen High School in Modesto. (Credit: Trent Johnson's Family)

Friends identified the pilot as Trent Johnson, describing him as a kind and respectful family man.

"He flew probably once or twice a week and he loved his airplane," friend Scott Naylor said. "That was his own private plane that he owned outright on his own."

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office says Johnson’s yellow plane plunged into Lake Tulloch Sunday morning after the wing struck a power line.

"Those wires are hard to see and he was probably paying more attention to his friends down in the water than he was to what was ahead of him," friend Tom Sliger said.

Johnson was returning to the Modesto airport where he stored his plane. He flew nearly every weekend.

A close family friend sent the following statement on behalf of Johnson's family:

Trent Johnson had a passion for flying. Since he was a little boy he dreamed of flying, eventually getting his pilot's license, and marrying into a family who also loved to fly. Trent died on Sunday, Father's Day, while doing something that gave him such great joy.

"Our three boys and I are deeply grieving," a quote read from Trent's wife, Sarah Mesenhimer-Johnson. "Right now we are dealing with a sudden and yet repeated tragedy. Never would we have imagined that the boy's beloved father would be taken from us 13 years after their grandfather - my dad - died in the same manner."

Officials say the plane was found 110 feet underwater. Crews were out on the lake on a barge to try to get the plane out all day Tuesday.

"I believe he was a Christian man and I believe he is where all good people go," Naylor said.

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