August 16, 1986 was scheduled as a training session for the Sheriff’s Department Aerosquadron and Search and Rescue units. The mission objectives were to see how a fixed-wing aircraft could be used to search for drowning victims in the Kern River, state certify Ray Bockman’s search dog in a fixed-wing aircraft, and acclimate Sergeant Marvin Kline in a small fixed-wing aircraft since he was second-in-command for the Search and Rescue unit and had never flown in a small aircraft.
Doug Moonen, the volunteer Aerosquadron pilot with 12,000 hours of flight time, was piloting his Cessna 182 along the Kern River at a low altitude. Sergeant Marvin Kline was on the passenger side and Roy Bockman and his dog Kelly were in the back of the plane. The team was searching for drowning victims in the Kern River from the mouth of the canyon to Hart Park. Apparently, Doug Moonen forgot about the low electrical wires across the Kern River on the west end of Hart Park and piloted the plane into the wires. The investigation revealed Doug Moonen’s airplane clipped the electrical wires forcing the aircraft to the ground in a violent motion striking trees and killing all three men and the dog on impact.
Note: During the mission briefing Doug Moonen, who was the safety officer for the Aerosquadron, told all the pilots and Search and Rescue personnel more than once to remember the electrical wires extending across-the Kern River at the west end of Hart Park.
Doug Moonen’s aircraft came to rest on the north side of Mirror Lake approximately 200 yards from the west entrance of Hart Park. A monument now stands at the crash site to honor the four members of the plane crash.