The Dateline episode “At the Bottom of the Lake,” investigates the mysterious Cessna plane crash in Conrad, Montana’s Little Bitterroot Lake in 1982. The 19-year-old Canadian who rented the plane, Jarek “Jerry” Ambrozuk, said he and his 18-year-old girlfriend, fellow Canadian Dianne Babcock, were planning to elope in the U.S. When the plane crashed in the lake, Ambrozuk (who was piloting the plane) survived and fled. Babcock had drowned in the plane. For 24 years, Ambrozuk lived as a fugitive. In 2006, he was arrested in Plano, Texas, where he was living under the name Michael Lee Smith.
In court, Ambrozuk said he did everything he could to save Babcock. He told the judge “I regrettably realize now that was a silly mistake. Taking the plane, ditching it in the water, was not a responsible thing to do, and I’m truly sorry for … her death.” In 2007, Ambrozuk pleaded no contest to felony negligent homicide for Babcock’s death. He was given two 10-year suspended sentences. In 2008, Ambrozuk returned to Vancouver. Since then, he has written a 444-page book about his life and his relationship with Babcock — “A Tear In My Life, The Brutal Truth” (see link above). He describes it as a “Romeo and Juliet story” and “a love story like no other.” Keith Morrison interviews Ambrozuk on Dateline (October 12) which airs Fridays at 9 pm on NBC.