NTSB Identification: LAX02LA066.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 14, 2002 in Groveland, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N3624R
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane collided with a vehicle while attempting to make a precautionary landing on a highway. When the pilot arrived in the destination area he was confronted with a low stratus cloud condition. He diverted to another airport and landed. He contacted an operator at the destination, who told him that there were visual flight operations there with cloud bases about 1,500 to 2,000 feet. He departed the diversionary airport and proceeded towards his destination. Unable to descend through or maneuver around the stratus, he returned to the original diversionary airport, which was now covered by the stratus deck, as were other local airports. Realizing he was now too low on fuel to reach an airport in visual conditions, he contacted Oakland Air Traffic Control Center and requested assistance. The center provided vectors towards airports, but due to the weather conditions, the pilot was unable to find the airports. The consensus was to land the airplane as soon as possible and before fuel exhaustion. The pilot spotted a forestry camp with a windsock near a highway. He was successful in landing on the highway; however, the highway had a curve that prevented him from seeing an on-coming vehicle. He attempted to avoid the vehicle but the wing tip clipped it, causing him to lose control and collide with trees.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's improper preflight planning and improper weather evaluation.

Full narrative available

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