Dean Paul Martin's Body Found After Jet CrashBARBARA METZLER , Associated Press
Mar. 26, 1987 12:51 PM ET
MARCH AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. MARCH AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) _ Dean Martin's son and a fellow crewman died instantly when their fighter jet slammed into a remote mountainside in dense clouds six days ago, officials said after finding the fliers' bodies.
Searchers found the remains Wednesday of Air National Guard Capt. Dean Paul Martin, 35, and weapons officer Capt. Ramon Ortiz, 39, of Las Vegas, Nev., in the San Bernardino Mountains where the wreckage of their F4-C Phantom was spotted from the air earlier in the day.
''They made no attempt to eject,'' said Sgt. Carolyn Hamilton, a guard spokeswoman. They ''perished instantly at the time of impact.''
''The family is grief-stricken and in seclusion in Beverly Hills,'' Dean Martin's publicist, Warren Cowan, said early today. He declined further comment.
The jet crashed into the side of a granite mountain at about 400 mph, after plunging nearly 4,000 feet from its last altitude reading on radar of 9,300 feet.
An Air Force investigation team left for the crash site early this morning.
''They are planning on recovering the bodies sometime today, as quickly as they can,'' said Capt. Bill Harkey of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. ''And they will try to reconstruct as much of the aircraft as they can from what they find.''
There was no indication of a malfunction with the plane, said another guard spokesman, Maj. Steve Mensik. ''Apparently they did a 360-degree loop, four miles long, after his last hit (sighting) on the radar,'' Mensik said.
Martin and Ortiz were in one of three Phantom jets that left March Air Force Base, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, on maneuvers near the San Bernardino mountains Saturday afternoon.
As the jets approached 11,502-foot Mount San Gorgonio in heavy clouds, civilian air traffic controllers instructed the pilots to turn. Two crews acknowledged and steered clear of the mountain, but there was no response from Martin's jet.
Searchers had difficulty finding the aircraft, which had a green and gray camouflage pattern that blended with the terrain, Mensik said.
Search and rescue workers had remained optimistic throughout the search, confident that if Martin and Ortiz were able to parachute from the jet they could survive for up to a week in the wilderness.
Both had been wearing parachutes and survival kits containing food, insulating blankets and other gear.
Ten years ago, the 82-year-old mother of Frank Sinatra, Natalie ''Dolly'' Sinatra, was killed in a plane crash nearby in the same mountain range.
Fliers in Martin's unit, the 163rd Tactical Fighter Group based at March Air Force Base considered him a talented pilot.
''Captain Martin was one of the better pilots and an exceptional athlete,'' said Mensik.
The oldest of Dean Martin's three children by a former wife, Jeanne, Dean Paul Martin had been an athlete, a pilot, a television performer and a musician.
He most recently appeared in NBC-TV's ''Misfits of Science,'' and starred with Ali MacGraw in the 1979 tennis movie ''Players.''
The younger Martin started his show business career at 14, forming the rock band Dino, Desi and Billy with Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and a neighbor, Billy Hinsche. The group's biggest hit was ''I'm a Fool.''
Dean Paul Martin was married and divorced from actress Olivia Hussey, with whom he had a son, and Olympic gold-medal skater Dorothy Hamill, and had played professional tennis.
He obtained a private helcopter pilot's license at age 16 and soon moved to fixed-wing aircraft, joining the Air National Guard in 1980.
Air National Guard slots for fighter pilots are usually reserved for those with fighter experience, generally ex-Air Force regulars.
Martin was welcomed after flying to Washington and pleading his case to the director of the Air Guard. He joined the 163rd after finishing pilot training in November 1981.