The commercial pilot reported that the Beech N35 was nearing the destination at the conclusion of a long cross-country flight when the engine experienced a total loss of power.
He declared an emergency and conducted a forced landing to a highway near South Bend, Indiana.
During the forced landing, the airplane hit an elevated island and a car and was substantially damaged.
A post-accident examination of the airplane revealed blue-colored fuel stains streaking from the right wing fuel filler aft to the trailing edge of the right wing flap.
The right fuel tank contained one cup of fuel and the left fuel tank had about 10 gallons of fuel. It is likely that the right fuel cap was not seated properly before takeoff, which resulted in the siphoning of the fuel during the flight, and a subsequent total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.
Probable cause: The improperly seated fuel cap, which resulted in an in-flight fuel leak and subsequent total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.
NTSB Identification: CEN17LA348
This September 2017 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.