Mayor Sawyer has maintained that the crash landing was not the result of running out of gas because, he maintains, he had plenty of gas in his airplane. He says he had sufficient fuel for the the short flight north during which he gave his passengers a birds-eye view of migrating whales passing along the Oregon Central Coast. He said his aircraft suddenly began to lose power so he made a B-line back to Newport. But the plane’s power continued to degrade and all Mayor Sawyer could do was to find a flat piece of beach to land on. The landing was sufficiently rough that an adult woman passenger was seriously injured, but survived. Her son and Sawyer were not injured. Sawyer later arranged a money settlement to compensate the woman for her medical bills.
The FAA investigated the aircraft and apparently the issue of how much gas was aboard the aircraft could not be conclusively confirmed. Sawyer told the FAA inspectors that when he and his passengers took off they had plenty of gas. He said it’s a very short flight from the Newport Airport to Depoe Bay. Sawyer said no one expected a near disaster that described their belly flop landing on the beach just north of the Newport jetties.
Again, Mayor Sawyer was barred by the FAA from flying for 200 days. The FAA said there was probable, but not conclusive findings, that the crash was caused by the plane running out of gas. Mayor Sawyer contends that the plane suffered major damage on impact making a finding of whether or not there was enough fuel on board, difficult to determine. But he continues to maintain he had plenty of gas aboard when he and his passengers took-off to look at the whales.
Meanwhile Newport area Attorney Susan Reese Painter filled out a petition, filed it with Newport City Hall and with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, to remove Mayor Sawyer from office in connection with the plane crash and in light of his issues with little or no aircraft inspections while also failing to under-go medical certifications. All are required of American pilots under the supervision of the FAA.
The petitions to recall Mayor Dean Sawyer are expected to hit the streets soon. Mayor Sawyer contends that he’s been a very positive, active mayor, helping to push Newport forward on a lot issues. He said the plane crash should not overwhelm his commitment to Newport and its citizens in addition to his years of service as a police officer and a civic leader.