Cape May police arrest man who illegally landed plane on Coast Guard beach

James Dahlen, 51, turned himself in Wednesday morning.

Molly Daly
June 27, 2018 - 2:02 pm
U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May

United States Coast Guard

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CAPE MAY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Authorities have arrested the man accused of taking a small plane from his family's banner towing business on a wild joyride over Wildwood Sunday before landing it on the beach at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, then fleeing the scene.

Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said 51 year-old Cape May Court House resident James Dahlen, Jr. contacted his office Wednesday morning and arranged to turn himself in. He was arrested by Cape May City Police and charged with criminal trespassing. 

Dahlen fled the scene after landing tha plane and was missing until Wednesday morning. Cape May Police had previously issued a warrant for his arrest.

He is being held at the Cape May County Correctional Center. Additional charges may be pending.

If convicted, Dahlen could be sentenced for as long as 18 months in New Jersey State Prison, according to Sutherland.

Dahlen works as an mechanic at Paramount Air Services. His stepmother, company President Barbara Tomalino, said it's a double blow.

"I don't understand it, none of us do. We had no indication — not my husband, nor myself, nor any of the employees that worked here," she admitted. "We're down a $50,000 airplane, so that's not much fun. But the bigger problem is a personal problem, obviously. How could your stepson do this to you?"

Tomalino said the plane is a total wreck, including damage to the engine.

Asked if she'd be willing to bail him out, Tomalino said, "Absolutely not. Because frankly, he might just run."

Then incident is an ongoing investigation.