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Missing Navy Pilot From Mt. Vernon

January 26, 2010, 5:55 PM by Don Jorgensen

Missing Navy Pilot From Mt. Vernon
A Navy pilot, who grew up in South Dakota, is presumed dead after his plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans. 

Lt. Clinton Wermers, 33, graduated from Mount Vernon in 1995. He was on a training flight Saturday night with a student pilot when something went terribly wrong.

The Coast Guard rescued the student, but Wermers hasn't been found and now rescue efforts have turned into a recovery.

Wermers, who was an instructor with the Navy, and the student pilot were flying the Navy's T-34 trainer plane.

The Navy says they were on a routine training mission and were approaching Lakefront Airport in New Orleans when their plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain.

Wermers' grandmother talked to KELOLAND News by phone. She tells us this is a horrible loss for the family. 

"He was an excellent grandson and he was a good student and hard working.  Very dedicated to the service, of course. He was in the National Guard and then went to the Navy," Joyce Tuschen said.

Tuschen says her grandson was proud to wear the uniform and enjoyed serving his country. She describes him as a fun-loving person with a good sense of humor who touched a lot of lives in his 33 years. 

"Good person, many friends.  He played sports, football, basketball in high school at Mt. Vernon," Tuschen said. 

The student pilot was rescued and taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for hypothermia. He has since been released.

As for Wermers, many volunteers are now searching Lake Pontchartrain, including the Marines. 

"It's called a recovery now I guess. The Navy after a certain length of time, and they have searched that lake a lot, so now it's called a recovery," Tuschen said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Wermers leaves behind a wife and two children and was expecting his third this spring.

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