Missing pilot believed to be from Tuolumne County

6:03 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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STOCKTON, CA - It's believed an Air Force pilot from Tuolumne County is missing after a jet on a training mission crashed off the coast of Italy.

The Modesto Bee reported Capt. Lucas Gruenther was the pilot who disappeared Monday.  Debris from the plane was later found by a fisherman in the Adriatic Sea.

In Tuolumne County, a high school guidance counselor at Summerville High School remembered Gruenther with great fondness.

Mitch Heldstab described Gruenther as an "unbelievable leader", a "mover and shaker who made things happen."

Gruenther was an outstanding student, class president, and top soccer player, said Heldstab.

He said Gruenther married his high school sweetheart, and the couple was expecting their first baby in a few weeks.



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