YouTuber intentionally crashed plane to gain views: Prosecutors
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(NewsNation) —  A YouTuber will spend time in prison for obstructing a federal probe into a plane crash he intentionally caused to gain online views, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced Monday.

Trevor Jacob, 30, of Lompoc, is an experienced pilot, skydiver and former Olympic athlete who secured sponsorships for multiple products, including for a wallet. He agreed to promote the wallet in one of his YouTube videos as part of a sponsorship deal.

On Nov. 24, 2021, Jacob took off on a solo flight in his own plane from Lompoc City Airport destined for Mammoth Lakes. But prosecutors pointed out that Jacob had bizarre plans for the trip.

“Jacob did not intend to reach his destination, but instead planned to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California shared in a news release.

Before taking off, investigators say Jacob mounted multiple video cameras on different parts of the plane and equipped himself with a parachute, video camera and selfie stick. After around 35 minutes in the air while flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, Jacob ejected from the plane and videoed himself parachuting to the ground.

Prosecutors then say Jacob hiked to the plane wreckage and recovered data containing the video recording of his flight and the plane crash.

Two days later, Jacob alerted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to the crash. The agency launched an investigation and told Jacob he was responsible for preserving the wreckage so it could examine it. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also started its review.

Weeks following the crash, authorities say Jacob lied to investigators about the plane’s engine quitting and insisted he didn’t have a location for the wreckage site.

On Dec. 10, 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said Jacob and a friend flew a helicopter to the wreckage site and used straps to secure the wreckage, which was carried to Rancho Sisquoc and loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s truck.

He then drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport, destroyed it and deposited parts of it into trash bins there. Thirteen days later, he uploaded a video to YouTube titled, “I Crashed My Airplane,” which had a promotion for the wallet and showed him parachuting from the plane.  

“Jacob most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated,” prosecutors said.

Monday, a U.S. district judge sentenced Jacob to six months in federal prison. He previously entered a guilty plea on June 30 to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

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