YouTuber who staged airplane crash will plead guilty to obstructing probe, prosecutors say
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An influencer who staged a California plane crash to make a YouTube video of himself parachuting to safety has agreed to plead guilty to obstructing the investigation by destroying the wreckage, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.
The plea agreement signed by Trevor Daniel Jacob, 29, of Lompoc, California, and his attorney was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The U.S. attorney's office said in a statement that Jacob is expected to make a court appearance in coming weeks.
Jacob, an experienced pilot and skydiver, agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The video titled “I Crashed My Airplane” appeared in December 2021 and purported to show Jacob's small plane have engine failure over the mountainous Los Padres National Forest. Already wearing a parachute, he jumped out with a selfie stick camera in hand.
His jump and the aircraft's plunge were recorded by cameras mounted on the plane's wing and tail and by the camera he carried. After landing, he hiked to the crash site and recovered video from the onboard cameras, the government said.
According to the plea agreement, Jacob had a sponsorship deal to promote a company's product in a video he would post, and he never intended to complete the Nov. 24, 2021, flight.
The Justice Department said Jacob later informed federal investigators about the crash, was told he was responsible for preserving the wreckage, agreed to determine its location — and then lied that he did not know the location.
On Dec. 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew to the site in a helicopter that was used to lift the wreckage and fly it to a trailer attached to his pickup truck, according to the agreement. The plane was later cut up, and the parts were disposed of in trash bins.
Jacob's pilot license was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2022.