In the latest evidence that satire doesn’t measure up to today’s reality, the DOJ announced that a YouTuber pleaded guilty on Wednesday to obstructing a federal investigation by destroying the wreckage of a a plane he intentionally crashed for views and sponsorship money. Trevor Jacob, a 29-year-old former professional snowboarder turned YouTuber, recorded and uploaded his staged (but very real) crash in Santa Barbara County, California in November 2021.
Jacob pleaded guilty to one count of destroying and concealing with intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, as first reported. Gizmodo. He admitted in his plea agreement that his motive was to take advantage of a portfolio promotion attached to the video.
Before taking off, Jacob fitted the plane with video cameras while arming himself with a parachute, a video camera and a selfie stick. He ejected from the plane about 35 minutes into the flight, recording himself parachuting to the ground as the plane crashed into an area of dry brush in the Los Padres National Forest . (An area of dry brush in wildfire country seems like a terrific place to send a plane to its fiery death.) He then drove to the crash site to retrieve his cameras and recordings.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Jacob’s shenanigans. He then waited two days to report the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); in the report, he incorrectly described it as an accident. Then, after being told by the NTSB that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage for examination, he returned to the crash site by helicopter, which he used to airlift the wreckage to a local vineyard and winery. There he loaded it onto a trailer attached to his pickup truck and hauled it to Lompoc City Airport, where he cut the remains of the plane into pieces, dumping them in nearby trash cans. Around this time, he lied to investigators, telling them he did not know where the wreckage was.
Still wanting to make sure the money from the wallet sponsorship goes to his wallet, Jacob uploaded the YouTube video “I Crashed My Airplane” on December 23, 2021. The video is still online and has a total of 3.3 million views. During a clip of his long trek back to civilization after landing, Jacob says, “I’ve been so past the point of saying I’m exhausted…but I saw a cow.”