2 killed in plane crash in Madera County. Bomb squad helps with cleanup

Two people were killed Thursday when a small airplane crashed in a Madera County field, according to the sheriff’s office.

Madera County Sheriff’s identified Fresno residents Joe Kulbeth, 76, and Saverio Chimienti Jr., 28, as the two people killed in the crash.

The plane crashed in a rural area west of Madera near Avenue 17 and Road 23. The Madera Municipal Golf Course and city airport are nearby.

The incident was reported by the California Highway Patrol just before 1 p.m. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The two people were pronounced dead at the scene, and have not been identified.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team was called to assist, though Fresno sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said there was no threat of explosives from the crash.

Botti said the special team was requested to handle a sensitive matter from the crash and said it had to do with the aircraft’s construction.

The Madera sheriff’s office described the bomb squad’s work as disarming safety equipment aboard the plane.

Madera police and fire departments also responded to the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the aircraft was a ultralight SRO Stingsport type. The agency said it is investigating the crash.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is a general assignment reporter at The Fresno Bee. He grew up in Porterville and has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Fresno State. He is a former student editor at the Fresno State and Fresno City College newspapers. His hobbies include reading, sleeping, running and taking care of his dog.