Exclusive image of the sea plane that crashed into Melton Hill Lake on Saturday June 6, 2009, killing two people.
KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Investigators have identified the two men killed in the crash of a home-built plane into Melton Hill Lake Saturday afternoon.
But they're still trying to figure out why it crashed.
The pilot was 40-year-old Bret Smith of Pleasant View. His passenger: 54-year-old Ron Siedentopf of Knoxville.
Dozens of people saw their plane crash. But only one, had a camera rolling, and caught it all.
Knox County authorities say the victims had been on a fun flight in advance of a party for the passenger's son.
A boater, Jonathan Shultz, trained his camera on it.
All through his video you hear him express concerns about how the pilot was flying his experimental aircraft.
"We basically, we literally watched two men die," says Jonathon Schultz.
Saturday June 6th was a day Schultz will probably never forget. What started out as a fun day of wake boarding on Melton Hill Lake turned into a real life theater of two men plunging to their death in an experimental aircraft.
Schultz says when he first saw the plane in the air, he wanted to email some video to his dad.
"I was like cool. I'll be able to send him this video of this sea plane landing on the water. This is going to be great," says Schultz.
But something concerned him about how 40-year-old Bret Smith was flying.
"He's going to crash. He doesn't know what he's doing! He's being incredibly unsafe."
Smith went on to land successfully before taking off again for the last time.
"It seemed to me any novice would look at this and say either this guy has too little airspeed or too little altitude," says Schultz.
As Smith banked for a left turn, the plane continued to roll over shooting straight into Melton Hill lake at a sixty degree angle.
"As soon as that plane hit the water it never came back up and it could never be seen," says Schultz.
That didn't stop Schultz and others from getting into water filled with airplane fuel not even thinking what a spark or a lit match could do.
"We were just like there were some guys here in trouble and we're going to jump out and see if we can do something. I don't know what that was," says Schultz.
Shultz says he was able to retrieve only some of the items that floated, including Smith's wallet.
His friend Carol kissing Smith's license before putting it back.
"I'd never seen that before and it's sad," says Schultz.
Schultz says he's really enjoys being on the lake wake boarding. But after this, he says he didn't think he could go back out today.
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