Crashed plane reported stolen in possible suicide

Midland Reporter-Telegram, writer
Staff Writer

The man who died in a June 1 plane crash in Penwell allegedly stole the Cessna 150K aircraft and had threatened to kill himself, according to Midland Police Department reports.

Midland police responded to an advise of rights call at approximately 9:07 p.m. June 1 at Basin Aviation at 901 Veterans Airpark Lane. The caller, identified as the pilot’s fiancée, Cathy Mote, was visibly distraught when police arrived and explained that her fiancé -- Clayton Chennault -- had taken a plane belonging to his boss, identified as Larry Mercer, a MPD report indicated. Chennault, it was later reported, crashed the plane, striking a tower at the Cemex plant in Penwell, located west of Odessa.

MPD reported the Chennault contacted his fiancée as late as approximately 8 p.m., according to her statements. He also contacted family members via phone, and it was reported to police that he threatened to kill himself during this conversation. The family believed that the crash had occurred at approximately 8:45 p.m., according to MPD.

Chennault’s fiancée had also reached out to Mercer and notified him of the situation. Police confirmed through DPS officials that Chennault was the deceased occupant of the plane at approximately 11 p.m., and police contacted the Midland County Crisis Response Unit to assist in notifying Mote of his passing. Mercer noted that Chennault did not have authorization to use the plane during nighttime hours or for personal use, according to the MPD report. Mercer reported the plane as stolen, but as the suspect in the case was deceased, no charges were filed.

MPD has no further role in connection with the plane crash at this time. The NTSB is conducting the investigation into the crash and is aware of this information, according to MPD.