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Originally published Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 7:36 PM

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Pilot dies in Fall City golf-course plane crash

A Cessna 182 crashed at the Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course in Fall City Tuesday morning, killing the unidentified male pilot, authorities said.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Federal aviation officials say that it could take up to 10 days before they release a preliminary report into Tuesday’s fatal crash of a small airplane at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course.

The Cessna 182 crashed at the Fall City golf course shortly after 8 a.m., killing the unidentified male pilot, said King County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. DB Gates.

The pilot was the only person aboard the single-engine plane, local and federal officials said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane crashed “under unknown circumstances.”

Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the agency would release a preliminary report within 10 business days.

The aircraft is registered to John Ciliberti, the former medical director of the emergency department at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue. Ciliberti’s wife, Molly, told The Seattle Times on Tuesday morning that her husband had left in the morning for a flight, but she had not received word of an accident.

Gates said that positive identification of the pilot will come from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office after an autopsy.

Neighbor Joe Bookter told KING 5 that he had spoken to Ciliberti on Monday.

“And that’s when he told me he was going to Harvey Field (Tuesday) morning to have his airplane checked out,” Bookter said.

Bookter said Ciliberti was planning to take his 1956 Cessna to the Snohomish airport for its yearly maintenance check.

The plane’s owner had been renting hangar space at Fall City Airport, said Jon Kummen.

Kummen is the manager of the small, private-use airport, according to an online FAA database. He said he did not know who was piloting the plane.

“We heard him take off, and the next thing we heard was a low pass overhead. I didn’t know he crashed until someone called me,” said Kummen, who lives adjacent to the airport.

Kummen said that in the 29 years he’s lived near the airport, there’s never been a fatal crash.

“This is unbelievable,” Kummen said.

Gates said the Sheriff’s Office received at least two 911 calls from people who witnessed the 8:07 a.m. crash at the golf course, at 35109 S.E. Fish Hatchery Road. She said it appears the plane hit a tree near the ninth hole.

Jeff Groshell, head golf pro at the course, said the plane crashed in the ninth fairway.

“It came close to hitting one of our maintenance guys, but didn’t hit him,” Groshell said.

Groshell said he was surprised the plane took off Tuesday morning because it was so foggy in Fall City.

Groshell, a longtime employee whose father also worked at the course, said that they often see low-flying aircraft from the tiny airport nearby. But, he said, there had never been a plane crash on the course since it opened in the 1960s.

The crash caused the small course to be closed most of Tuesday. There were a few golfers playing when the crash occurred, Groshell said.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf and staff reporter Carol Ostrom contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or

On Twitter @SeattleSullivan

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