Exploring wreck sites can be a fascinating adventure, offering a unique glimpse into the past. However, it's important to approach these visits with respect and mindfulness. Please remember, these sites are not attractions—they're part of our heritage and often serve as final resting places. We encourage all visitors to observe without disturbing, to take nothing but photographs, and to leave no trace of their visit. By doing so, we can ensure these sites remain intact for future generations to explore and learn from. Thank you for being a responsible explorer and guardian of history.
Located in the northern Greenwater Range above the Widow Mine (see our trip to The Baby Gauge for more information on the Widow) is the wreck of a single engine Piper Comanche tail number N7304P, flown by LaVern DeBerg, the sole fatality in the crash. This excerpt is taken directly from the NTSB accident report:
"On December 23, 1995, about 1245 hours Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-24-250, N7304P, was destroyed after colliding with mountainous terrain near Death Valley, California. The pilot was fatally injured. According to witnesses, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross-country flight and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Nervino, California, on the day of the accident about 1030 hours, and was destined for Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Concerned family members notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies when the aircraft did not arrive at its destination. They also contacted various airports along the route. The nearest airport to the accident site was Furnace Creek Airport in Death Valley. Personnel at the Furnace Creek Inn stated there was no traffic in or out of the airport that day due to low clouds and generally poor weather.
On June 27, 1996, the aircraft wreckage was discovered by microwave technicians en route to an antenna site in the remote area of Death Valley's Greenwater Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet msl. The location was 36 degrees 18 minutes 15 seconds north by 116 degrees 38 minutes 48 west, or 153 degree radial of the Beatty VOR at 30 nautical miles. The location was 16 miles east of Furnace Creek."
We set out to find the wreckage on January 15, 2024, below is our trip report.