A plan, possibly carrying a banner, crash landed on a beach in Carlsbad. Photo courtesy of OnSceneTV

An investigation into an Independence Day plane crash that injured a 12-year-old boy at Carlsbad State Beach determined that the pilot was at fault for improper management of the aircraft’s fuel system.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled out mechanical errors as contributing factors to the July 4 crash.

An NTSB report said 23-year-old James William Kanagy had the fuel gauge shifted to the empty left gas tank of the single-engine Piper PA-18 rather than the right tank that contained fuel, causing the plane to lose power and crash into the beach just after 3 p.m.

Kanagy, who was towing a banner on behalf of El Cajon-based Air Ads Inc., was not injured.

“The pilot’s failure to manage the fuel system properly during a banner tow operation resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation,” the NTSB report says.

The plane hit 12-year-old body surfer Nicholas Baer, damaging his skull and causing a concussion. The boy underwent surgery at Rady Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. He spent four days in the hospital.

The child’s family has filed a lawsuit against the pilot and the advertising company.

—City News Service

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