Mark Strub's Saga Reaches Its End
A Wisconsin pilot has been sentenced
to six months in jail, with five of those months to be spent
outside of prison, for an August 2004 crash that claimed the life
of a passenger.
ANN has reported extensively on the case
of Mark Strub, who offered to take passengers on
10-minute rides in his 1941 PT-13 Stearman biplane (file photo of
type below) during a Children's Miracle Network Balloon Rally in
Wisconsin Rapids, for a suggested donation of $10.
While giving Kimberly Reed a ride in the vintage aircraft, the
plane struck power lines, and came to rest inverted in the
Wisconsin River. Strub survived the accident, but he wasn't able to
free Reed, who suffered a broken neck.
According to the NTSB Probable Cause report on the crash, Strub
said he had given three people free rides prior to the accident
flight. Reed has asked for an aerobatic flight, so with both
persons wearing parachutes the plane departed, and climbed to 3,000
After performing one Cuban eight, a loop, and two hammerhead
stalls, Strub and Reed were heading back to the airport, at an
altitude of about 50 feet over the water when the aircraft struck
the lines, and flipped into the Nepco Lake.
Strub accepted a plea deal last month, in exchange for a reduced
jail sentence. On Tuesday, Portage County Circuit Court Judge
Frederic Fleishauer sentenced the man to six months of
incarceration, with the first 30 days to be served in prison with
Strub will be released after that, reports The Wisconsin Rapids
Tribune, to serve the next 60 days at home under electronic
surveillance. Strub may then perform 1,000 hours of community
service in place of the final 90 days of the sentence.
"There is no way I or anyone doing what I'm doing can impose a
sentence that will bring Kim (Reed) back or soften the grief,"
Fleishauer said in his ruling.
As part of the sentence, the judge also ordered Strub to write a
letter of apology to Reed's family, within the next 30 days. Strub
must also participate in, and pay for, victim mediation counseling,
if Reed's family agrees.
That's unlikely to happen, however... as the wounds still run
deep for Kimberly Reed's family. Kevin Reed, Kimberly's husband,
said he did not oppose the plea agreement last month not because of
any sense of forgiveness for the pilot's mistakes... but because he
didn't want to relive the nightmare in a court trial.
"I do not ever want to see the face or have my children have to
look in the eye of the man who killed their mother again," he said
Nicholas Borkowski, Kimberly's father, told the paper he opposed
the plea deal. "It is incomprehensible to me that the charges had
been reduced to a misdemeanor when my daughter, my baby is dead,"
About 40 people showed up at the sentencing hearing to support
Strub. Six testified on his behalf, while many others wrote letters
of support for the grief-stricken pilot.
"He was so distraught," recalled fellow pilot Daniel Steckbauer,
who visited with Strub the night following the accident.