MOAB, Utah (ABC4) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary investigation report about the Moab plane crash that killed a North Dakota state senator and his family in early October.
N.D. State Sen. Doug Larsen (R), his wife, and their two kids were killed on Sunday evening, Oct. 1, shortly after taking off from the Canyonlands Regional Airport, about 20 miles northwest of Moab.
According to the preliminary investigation from the NTSB, the plane had struck a hilltop shortly after takeoff before crashing into the ground about a half-mile away from the runway.
A witness told NTSB investigators that it was very dark outside on the night of the crash with no moon illumination. Larsen and his family had boarded the plane just after 8 p.m. and took off shortly before 8:30 p.m.
According to the preliminary report, security video from Canyonlands Regional Airport showed the plane’s landing light, navigation lights, and anti-collision lights were all on. At the time of taking off, however, the pilot-controlled runway lights were turned off.
The plane reportedly took off and climbed to 200 feet before turning “steeply to the right,” staying in the steep bank until it was parallel with the runway and traveling in the opposite direction. The witness confirmed with investigators that the “white light in the nose” of the plane was turned off during takeoff.
The witness continued saying the plane appeared to be losing altitude shortly after take off. When he lost sight of the plane he heard “two distinct impacts.”
Investigators said they found a “gouge” in a nearby hilltop, which indicated the first point of impact. The second impact was about 450 feet away. The plane was found near the second impact in an upright position.
The NTSB said there was no evidence of a system failure or any mechanical malfunctions that would have impacted flight.