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YouTuber agrees to plead guilty to federal charge after intentionally crashing his plane for online views, DOJ says

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

A 29-year-old YouTuber will plead guilty to a federal charge after he destroyed the wreckage of a plane he purposefully crashed to gain views, Justice Department officials announced Thursday.

Trevor Daniel Jacob admitted to authorities he planned to crash his plane in a video he made to promote a wallet. He later collected the aircraft’s wreckage and got rid of it to hinder federal investigators from probing the crash site, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Jacob, a pilot and skydiver, agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, the release said. CNN has reached out to Jacob’s attorney for comment.

The flight took place on November 24, 2021. Jacob departed from Lompoc City Airport, in Santa Barbara County, but he never intended to land the aircraft, he admitted in the plea agreement. Instead, he “planned to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed,” according to the release.

Jacob had put up several cameras in different parts of the plane and took with him a parachute, video camera and selfie stick, the release said.

“Approximately 35 minutes after taking off, while flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, Jacob ejected from the airplane and videoed himself parachuting to the ground,” it added.

After parachuting to the ground and recording the crash, he hiked to the wreck and took the video data of the crash with him, according to the release.

The YouTuber reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board two days later and agreed to share the site of the wreck. But he instead lied to authorities that he did not know where the crash site was and roughly two weeks later, flew to the site with a friend, loaded up the wreckage and later destroyed it, according to the release, which cites the plea agreement.

Roughly a month after the wreck, he uploaded a video on YouTube called “I Crashed My Airplane,” showing the crash and Jacob parachuting from the plane.

Some viewers were suspicious of the stunt, with a number of comments pointing out Jacob was already wearing a parachute, made no attempt to glide the aircraft to a safe landing area, and took his camera and selfie stick with him when abandoning the plane.

“Jacob admitted in his plea agreement that he intended to make money through the video,” the release added.

He also admitted to lying to federal investigators after submitting an aircraft accident incident report and falsely claimed the plane fully lost power roughly half an hour after takeoff, the news release said.

“Jacob also lied to (a Federal Aviation Administration) aviation safety inspector when he said the airplane’s engine had quit and, because he could not identify any safe landing options, he had parachuted out of the plane,” it added.

The FAA revoked Jacob’s pilot license last year, according to the release.

Jacob is expected to appear in court in the coming weeks.

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CNN’s Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.

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