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.
Trevor Daniel 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.
Jacob Crashed Plane to Promote Wallet on YouTube
Justice Department officials announced Thursday that Jacob admitted to authorities that 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.
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.
Jacob Lied to Investigators About Crash Location, Then Destroyed the Wreckage
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, cut up the wreckage over a few days and disposed off the parts in different trash bins around the airport.
Jacob Faked Engine Failure, Pretended Crash was Real Before Being 'Saved' by Farmers
Roughly a month after the wreck, he uploaded a video on YouTube called "I Crashed My Airplane." The video, which currently has over 2.9 million views, shows Jacob swearing repeatedly, pretending that his engine has gone out and that he needs to abandon the aircraft. Jacob jumped out of the plane while wearing a parachute and even captured video of himself the entire time.
The video also shows Jacob hiking, explaining that he was "just so happy to be alive," and becoming "so thirsty" that he drinks from a nearby stream. This was also captured by Jacob's camera, thanks to his handy selfie stick. After night fall, viewers see Jacob notice car headlights in the distance. Jacob was then "saved" by nearby farmers.
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. If convicted of the charges, he could be facing up to 20 years in prison.