Accompanied by his attorney, 30-year-old Eric Rode-Olsen appeared in Manteca Superior Court out of custody with his family and his employer, SkyView owner Richard Ortenheim.
Rode-Olsen is accused of crashing his BMW into the Delta-Mendota Canal outside of Tracy Municipal Airport on Feb. 23, killing one of his passengers, pilot Mikael Strid, 23, of Sweden.
According to police, Rode-Olsen was driving down a runway at the Tracy airport with Swedish pilots Strid, Andreas Johansson and Andreas Olsen. The car reportedly crashed through a chain-link fence, launched off of a levee and flipped into the canal.
Three of the men escaped the rushing waters of the canal, including Rode-Olsen, but authorities listed Strid as a drowning victim. His body was recovered from the canal on March 10, at a gate downstream from the airport.
Defense Attorney Albert Ellis told Judge Ron Northup today that he and the prosecution agreed to set further arraignment, and possibly a preliminary setting, on April 19.
Outside the courthouse, Ellis said the delay was due to numerous police reports still coming into his office and the office of the prosecutor.
“We’re still gathering reports and information,” Ellis said.
He said he and the deputy district attorney had to wait for autopsy and toxicology reports once Strid’s body was recovered, as well as for an outstanding report from the Department of Justice.
When questioned about Rode-Olsen’s state of mind, Ellis said it’s been tough. He said his client, also a Swedish nationalist, was friends with the victim.
Strid had been part of a group of five Swedish pilots renting aircraft from SkyView to expand their flight hours. The group had reportedly attended a birthday party for a SkyView employee a few hours prior to the incident.
Ellis described Rode-Olsen as a good young man and noted that the victim’s family had even written a letter to the deputy district attorney on his behalf.
“Tough case,” he said.
Rode-Olsen’s next court date will April 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Manteca Superior Court.