YouTuber Trevor Jacob sentenced to 6 months in prison after deliberate plane crash in California

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Monday, December 4, 2023
Popular YouTuber sentenced to 6 months in prison for CA plane crash
A popular YouTuber has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for a 2021 plane crash in California that the FAA said he purposely caused.

YouTuber Trevor Jacob has been sentenced to six months in federal prison following a 2021 plane crash in California that the Federal Aviation Administration has claimed the pilot purposely caused.

Last June after reaching a plea agreement, Jacob pleaded guilty to a charge of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which would have carried up to a 20-year prison sentence.

Jacob released the following statement through his attorney:

"This experience has been so humbling. I've learned more about myself than in my entire prior life combined. I have learned from my mistakes, and look forward to being a contributing member of society, and a mentor for youth. I am grateful that Judge Walter considered many different aspects of my unique situation. I believe he made the right decision in imposing this punishment. I am excited to continue my positive growth as a person through my six month term in prison. This was a massive learning experience. I'm grateful for the support system I have around me. Especially my incredible lawyer. This would have been a much worse outcome without her. I'm grateful I have learned so much from this, and am so excited for the next chapter."

The crash occurred on Nov. 24, 2021, while Jacob flew over Los Padres National Forest. He posted a 12-minute video of the crash to his YouTube channel that has received nearly 3 million views, according to the video's YouTube page. It wasn't until two days after the crash that Jacob reported it to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Prosecutors claimed that Jacob never planned on reaching his destination, that the plan was always to crash the plane, and that he lied to federal investigators about not knowing the crash location. Jacob was also accused of lying to the FAA, which revoked his pilot's license last year over the crash.

"I did not jump out of my plane for views," Jacob told ABC News at the time.

But the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California disagreed.

"Jacob is an experienced pilot, skydiver and former Olympic athlete who had secured a sponsorship from a company that sold various products, including a wallet. Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company's wallet in a YouTube video that he would post," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

In fact, the video he posted on Dec. 23, 2021, titled "I crashed my airplane" contained a promotion of the wallet.

Jacob attached multiple cameras to the inside and outside of the plane and was wearing a sports parachute in a backpack during the flight, according to the FAA letter. The FAA noted that Jacob did not attempt to restart the engine, contact air traffic controllers about the problem or look for areas to land safely. The FAA said Jacob then jumped from the plane "while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick."

Also in the video, Jacob goes to the plane's wreckage and retrieves the cameras that were attached to the plane.

In the plea agreement, prosecutors said Jacob contacted a company to help him retrieve his plane, and that he and a friend flew in a helicopter to the crash site in the weeks following the incident and retrieved the wreckage. Jacob later reportedly told investigators that he was not aware of the plane's wreckage location, prosecutors said. The plea agreement also stated that Jacob and his friend cut up and destroyed the plane wreckage "with the intent to impede and obstruct federal authorities."

"It appears that (Jacob) exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense," prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. "(He) most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of 'daredevil' conduct cannot be tolerated."

ABC News contributed to this report.