Four people died in a horrific plane crash in Riverdale, Utah, when the small personal plane carrying them crashed down onto I-15. The accident happened on July 26 at around 1:00 p.m., shortly after the aircraft took off from Ogden-Hinckley Airport, headed for Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Montana. Although the Beech A36 Bonanza crashed into a busy stretch of I-15, near 5600 S, no vehicles on the road were involved in the fiery accident.
Two Couples Died in Tragic Plane Crash near Ogden Airport
Shortly following the accident, officials identified the victims-two couples headed for a vacation in Island Park, Idaho.
Killed in the crash were:
- 48-year-old Layne Clarke, the plane’s pilot;
- 46-year-old Diana Clarke, Layne’s wife;
- 45-year-old Perry Huffaker, Diana and Layne’s close friend
- 42-year-old Sarah Huffaker, Perry’s wife, and Diana and Layne’s close friend.
Both families left behind four children and were remembered by close friends as being unbelievably giving and loving. Meanwhile, the Ogden City Council Tweeted that Perry Huffaker made Odgen a better place through his involvement with the Ogden Trails Network Committee.
Perry’s friend, Justin Anderson, told Fox 13 that Perry would want everyone to know he is alright and is with his love.
“You know we’d often embrace and tell each other we loved each other like brothers, and it’s a hard day,” Anderson said. “He loved his wife and his children: They were the world to him.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the Huffaker family with funeral costs. In 25 days, more than $30,000 was raised for the family.
What Caused the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza to Crash?
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the cause of the Riverdale plane crash along with the Utah Highway Patrol and the State Bureau of Investigation.
At this point, what is known is that the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza experienced difficulty almost immediately after takeoff. The pilot-Layne Clarke-radioed the tower before takeoff to change his flight planes so he could get above the clouds. The controller gave the pilot more instructions and cleared the aircraft for takeoff.
In less than two minutes, the pilot radioed the tower, saying “Hey. I’m going down. Zero Whiskey Bravo. Zero-Whiskey…” Although the controller cleared the pilot for landing, only seconds later the plane crashed into the ground.
“I just heard him go down,” the air traffic controller said immediately. “He just hit the highway there.”
After the plane hit the ground, it exploded, with debris spread across I-15’s northbound lanes. Fortunately for everyone on the ground, the plane crashed without hitting any vehicles, thanks to a gap in the traffic.
Officials closed all of I-15’s northbound lanes and every southbound lane except one.
NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Riverdale Plane Crash
In its investigation regarding the plane crash, the NTSB spoke with flight mechanics, who said the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza made strange sounds just before takeoff. When they heard the sounds, the mechanics looked up and noted that the plane was 400 feet lower than it should have been. Furthermore, the witnesses told investigators that the engine sounded as though it did not have enough power, and the pilot appeared to have difficulty keeping the aircraft at altitude.
Witnesses Describe Aftermath of Fiery Plane Crash on I-15
Kathy Johnson, who works in an office right by I-15, heard the plane right before it crashed.
“This just had a different sound, with the engine sputtering,” Johnson said. “[When the plane crashed] it shook the building. We all jumped up, and looked out the window, and everything was on fire.”
Randy Poulsen happened to be in his truck and saw the plane plummet toward the interstate from around 300 feet in the air. He described a loud sound from the engine, and then the plane’s vertical drop.
“The people inside the plane had no chance, dropping that fast and that hard,” Poulsen said. “I was ready to jump the fence to see if I could help, but it was such a boiling flame of fire, I couldn’t even get close to it.”
In all, more than 40 people saw the plane plummet to the ground. The Department of Public Safety’s Victim Services Center and the Weber County Advocates set up a Family Assistance Center the day after the crash where witnesses could seek help for the trauma.
Tragedy Reminiscent of Plane Accident that Killed the Victim’s Brother
Unfortunately, the accident was all too familiar to people who knew Layne Clarke’s brother, Corry. Corry died in a plane crash in 2002 when the lightweight experimental aircraft he was a passenger in crashed at Ogden-Hinckley Airport. Eerily, Corry’s plane accident also happened just after the plane lifted off the runway.