YouTuber Trevor Jacob made a poor example of himself and YouTube stunt artists in general two years ago when, while promoting a wallet for a sponsor, he filmed a video in which he deliberately crashed a small plane in Santa Barbara County.
Setting aside the massive risk of sparking a wildfire with such a stunt, Jacob also potentially put lives in danger and more when, on November 24, 2021, he ejected from a plane he was piloting and video-recorded both himself parachuting to safety and plane crash landing without a pilot — all for the pageviews.
He ejected over the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, and the plane crashed in a dry brush area of the forest moments later.
Jacob, now 30 years old, pleaded guilty in the case in May, and on Monday he was sentenced in federal court to six months for obstructing a federal investigation.
Jacob gets off pretty lucky here, given that he faced a potential 20-year sentence, and given the aforementioned possibility of getting wildfire arson charges added as well.
The obstruction charge came after federal investigators determined that Jacob had lied to them about the plane crash, and tried to cover up his deliberate role in it by retrieving the wreckage himself and trying clandestinely to dispose of it.
Much of the crime was, of course, captured for posterity and posted to YouTube, all in promotion of a (crypto?) wallet, as the feds explain.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into the crash the day that Jacob informed them of it, on November 26, after he had already hiked out to the crash site and retrieved all his recording devices.
"In the weeks following the plane crash, Jacob lied to investigators that he did not know the wreckage’s location," federal prosecutors say in a release. "In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site. There, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck."
The wreckage was then taken to Lompoc City Airport, unloaded into a hangar, cut up, and disposed of in various trash bins at the airport.
After uploading a video on December 23, 2021 titled "I Crashed My Airplane," Jacob then lied to federal investigators "when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff."
The video, which was still online as of May, has since been removed.
"It appears that [Jacob] exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. “[Jacob] 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."