Skip to comments.Former game show host Peter Tomarken killed in SoCal plane crash
Posted on 03/13/2006 10:26:29 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper
SANTA MONICA, Calif. Former T-V game show host Peter Tomarken and his wife were killed Monday morning when their small plane crashed into Santa Monica Bay. Divers called off a search for a third person Monday night after authorities concluded only two people were on board.
The bodies of the 63-year-old Tomarken, host of the hit 1980's game show "Press Your Luck," and his wife, Kathleen, were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
The plane was on its way to San Diego to ferry a medical patient to the U-C-L-A Medical Center.
The F-A-A says the plane apparently had engine trouble and was headed back to Santa Monica Airport, but went down just off shore.
"Press Your Luck" was known for contestants shouting the slogan "Big bucks! No whammies!"
Sympathy to the family. I enjoyed Press Your Luck, we used to watch it back when we had tv.
Used to watch Press Your Luck every day after school when I was growing up in the 1980's.
He was flying to transport a person who needed medical help.
They will be with the angels for at least trying to do good things.
They died during an act of charity which I find quite sad but impressive.
Saw video of it on one of the Los Angeles TV stations, and it looked like it had landed on the Santa Monica beach.
Thanks, Mods ..
Thanks for adding the photo. I was trying to find a more recent photo on Google Images, but that was the one I was going to use. :)
You're welcome. I never saw this show .. I must've been in some twilight zone period.
They show it on Game Show Network in reruns these days. Not sure when though.
My grandmother likes to watch Press Your Luck. She say's it's one of her favorite "quizzers" next to Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune.
I was impressed also that they were going to pick up a cancer patient, as reported on local news today. Although, something is missing in the story, because on the return trip a plane like that would not be able to land at UCLA Med Center; they were probably bringing the patient back to SM Airport, then transfer to a helicopter. There is a helipad at the Med Center.
I was already planning to go to Santa Monica today, when the story broke this morning. So, unintentionally, I ended up at the scene on the beach. It was slightly north of where POP pier used to be.
I understand they were on their way to an Angel Flight mission... God bless them.
At least he hadn't picked up the person he was trying to transport. Or were they trying to fly back? Anyway, if it was engine failure, better two victims than three.
I don't know if I would put it in the same category as "Jeopardy". ;o)
But, it was THE most enjoyable game show ever produced.
Thank you for the post, sad though it is.
He found the "Whammy".
No, he and his wife were on the way to pick up the patient. He reported back to the tower that he had lost an engine. My thinking was he tried to crash into the ocean (2 -1/2 miles west of takeoff) instead of on land where people could have been hurt.
See post 21. Sorry if my post 16 was confusing...
I used to live in Santa Monica. Now, I live east of the airport. I see the small planes all the time; it's just part of life. But sometimes I worry about one that may be wobbling or uncertain; probably flying lessons...
I got the impression he was trying to make it back to the airport based on his report to the tower. Of course, some of the traffic helicopter pilots were chiming in on the air saying he should have focussed more on getting the plane down gently, than trying to get back to Santa Monica.
I am sure he was trying the best he could to get to shallow water....but if you lose your only engine, at that low altitude, your options seem very limited.
I hear the mistake was he landed the plane nose down, which made the plane flip.
They might have all made it better had he landed with the nose up a bit so the rear hit first.
I think there were 3 people and the one they were trying to save was the one still alive. Boy that is something.
Oh boy, I hear the earlier report of three people and supposedly one going to the hospital.
Obviously most of the live news I happened to catch was filled with reporter speculation.
Press Your Luck had a memorable incident; a contestant named Michael Larson won over $110,000. He did it by taping the show and slowing it down, then memorizing the patterns the board went through. He could thus avoid the Whammy and run into really big bucks. Briefly there was a plan to make a movie about the incident, to star Bill Murray, but it wound up becoming a Game Show Network special, hosted by Tomarken: "Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal". Peter's "reactions" as the big money rolled up added to the entertainment factor.
Prayers for their family.
Looking forward to reading the "real" story in my GuidePosts soon.
He and his wife sound like good Americans..., the kind that give quietly,
without calling their press agents.
May God bless them and comfort those they have left behind.
NTSB Identification: LAX06FA129
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 13, 2006 in Santa Monica, CA
Aircraft: Beech A36, registration: N16JR
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On March 13, 2006, at 0943 Pacific standard time, a Beech A36, N16JR, ditched in the Pacific ocean following a loss of engine power during departure from Santa Monica Municipal Airport, Santa Monica, California. The instrument rated private pilot, who was also the registered owner of the airplane, was operating it under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; a third occupant listed on the instrument flight plan was not located. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight was destined for Brown Field Municipal Airport, San Diego, California, to pickup a passenger and then return to Santa Monica later that day. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was in effect.
The airplane impacted the water off Santa Monica beach approximately 2.5 statues miles west-southwest of the Santa Monica airport, and about 250 yards offshore. It was submerged in 20 feet of water. The pilot and one occupant were recovered from the airplane. Searches for the third occupant continued but were unsuccessful. Acquaintances of the pilot were unaware of who the third person would have been, and at the time of this report, there was no additional information of a third person onboard of the airplane.
According to Angel Flight personnel, the pilot had volunteered his time and airplane services to assist in the transport of a medical patient from San Diego to the Los Angeles area. The pilot was on the initial leg of the trip to pickup the patient when the accident occurred.
A lifeguard reported that he was 1 mile north of the airplane when he saw the airplane at 400 feet above water level. It appeared to be lower than normal and continuing on a 30- to 40-degree descent toward the ocean. The flight path of the airplane was toward Santa Monica airport from the southwest to the northeast. As the airplane touched down on the water, there was a large splash. The lifeguard stated that the pilot appeared to be flying the airplane, and that from the time he first noticed the airplane until it impacted water was approximately 5 seconds.
The wreckage was examined on March 15, 2006. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator, three Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, and representatives from Raytheon Aircraft Company and Teledyne Continental Motors (all parties to the investigation), were present.
The airplane was equipped with six seats; two front seats, two middle seats, and two rear seats. Each seat was equipped with a lap belt; however, no shoulder harnesses were installed.
The six cylinder Teledyne Continental IO-520-BA engine was examined. Both magnetos were severed from their attachment flanges and were resting on the top of the engine case. The case had a hole that stretched between the top cylinder base nuts of cylinders 1 and 2. The hole was approximately 8 inches across and 6 inches at its widest section fore and aft.
The number 2 cylinder connecting rod was visible through the hole and portions of it and the connecting rod cap were fractured from the rod end. A 2.5-inch portion of the connecting rod from the crankshaft end contained the top portion of an attachment bolt and was located loose within the engine, just below the connecting rod. Two sections of bearing were peened and bent; one was located within the engine case and one was located on the outside of the engine, between cylinders number 1 and 3. A threaded shank, fractured from the cap bolt head, was also located between cylinders number 1 and 3, as well as a fractured and deformed portion of a castellated nut. A 1.25-inch section of rod cap was also found between the two cylinders. The other castellated nut was located between cylinders number 1 and 3, outside of the engine. It was fractured at one end and twisted.
The oil pan was removed and investigators noted sand in the pan. The sand was strained through a sieve and a 2.0-inch section of rod cap and both a bolt head and a threaded shank were identified. A 0.25-inch piece of castellated nut was also identified. Following the removal of the oil pan, investigators noted a hole in the bottom of the engine case, in alignment with the number 2 cylinder connecting rod above. The number 2 cylinder connecting rod was still attached to the piston by the piston pin. Upon initial examination, there were no signs of heat distress on the connecting rod and rod cap pieces or upon borescope inspection of the engine through the damaged case hole.
The County of Los Angeles Fire Department Underwater Operations personnel reported the following weather conditions at the time of the accident: 1- to 2-foot waves; swell out of the south; wind from the west at 5 knots; surface rippled; water temperature 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
At 0951, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Santa Monica was reporting the following weather conditions: wind variable at 4 knots; surface visibility 10 statute miles; sky conditions clear; temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 35 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 30.27 inches of Mercury.
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Please update us when the final report is released.