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Entries in Superstition Mountains (5)

Monday
Nov282011

Plane Crash 911 Calls: ‘It Flew Right Into the Freakin’ Mountain’

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz.) -- Witnesses to a small plane crash in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains reacted with disbelief and horror as the aircraft flew straight into the rugged terrain, killing all six people on board.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Department on Monday released the 911 calls placed moments after the crash.

“We were just watching it and it flew right into the freakin’ mountain,” the first caller said. “It looked like they flew…like they didn’t know Ship Rock was there.”

The caller, a resident who seemed familiar with the rugged terrain, continued to describe the plane as exploding as soon as it hit the mountains.

“We were watching it fly over and it burst into fire,” he said. “Oh my god.”

Following the first call, the Pinal County sheriff’s dispatcher received numerous others, but explained to the worried residents that units were already en route to the scene.

The plane crashed into the face of the Superstition Mountains at around 5 p.m. Wednesday shortly after takeoff. The victims of the fiery crash included Shawn Perry, 39, of Safford, Ariz., who was flying his three young children: Morgan, 9; Logan, 8; and Luke, 6. The children lived with their mother Karen in Canyon, Ariz., and were traveling with their father to spend Thanksgiving with him in Safford, Ariz.

The other two adults on board were identified as Russel Hardy, 31, who was the co-owner of the Rockwell AC69 twin-engine plane, and Joseph Hardwick, 22, a mechanic who was engaged to be married on Dec. 16.

Since the fiery crash, rescuers searched for remains of victims and pieces of the plane. Yet in the past few days, officials say people have attempted to climb to the crash site and one person even dropped off a bone fragment at the ranger’s station.

“For some reason, beyond what we can understand, there’s people that want to go up there,” sheriff’s department spokesman Elias Johnson said. “We don’t need that, everything we need off the mountain we got off the mountain.

“There’s just no way to close down that upper portion,” Johnson said. “We’ve had several people ask us about how to get up there, and we’re not helping anyone by giving them directions.”

The investigator’s preliminary report is expected to be released within days.

 

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov262011

Friends Rally Around Karen Perry, Mother of Arizona Plane Crash Victims

Bill Cummings/Desert Breeze Photography(GOLD CANYON, Ariz.) -- Friends are wrapping their arms around Karen Perry today after the Gold Canyon, Ariz., single mother had to face the loss of her three young children and ex-husband in the Thanksgiving plane crash in Arizona.

"You have survived so much already," friend Susan Steele wrote on Perry's public Facebook wall. "I cannot imagine what you are facing. I add my love and prayers to the many you have received. We are all here for you."

Perry, who was a pilot and currently works as a flight attendant with Delta Airlines, was described as a doting and selfless mother to her three children, Morgan, 9; Logan, 8; and Luke, 6.

Countless pictures of Perry having fun with her three children are posted on her Facebook, including Morgan and a kangaroo, a vacation with Logan in Hollywood and photos of Luke, who loved to pose, hamming it up for the camera.

The flight between Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., and Safford, Ariz., seemed to be a common one for the three kids.

Perry posted a picture of the twin-engine plane the children and her ex-husband, Shawn Perry, 39, rode on during that fateful Thanksgiving-eve crash in the Superstition Mountains.

"Just loaded up my kids on this turbine commander," she posted on Feb. 4, 2011. "Dad at the controls headed for Safford, AZ."

The twin-engine plane slammed into the Superstition Mountains at 200 mph shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, creating a fireball that was captured on video.

Pilot Russell Hardy, 31, and mechanic Joseph Hardwick, 22, who was engaged to be married on Dec. 16, were also on board.

Rescuers continued their search to recover remains and debris Friday, which they said was scattered throughout the steep, jagged terrain.

"It's a very arduous process, without being too descriptive, because of the explosion," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Thursday afternoon. "The remains are being handled with great care and compassion."

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was also on hand today to investigate the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov242011

Mother Loses Three Children in Arizona Plane Crash

Bill Cummings/Desert Breeze Photography(PHOENIX) -- An Arizona sheriff said he tried Thursday to comfort the mother of a family that perished when a small plane crashed into Superstition Mountain, a crash the sheriff said no one could have survived.

The twin-engine aircraft, which carried three adults and three children, was en route to Safford, Ariz., when it crashed Wednesday night in the jagged terrain of the Superstition Mountains.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told ABC News Thursday he was in close contact with the mother of the children, who were between the ages of 5 and 9.

"It's traumatic for any parent to hear this, and then just the nature of the crash is horrific," Babeu said. "We just want to be there for her and love her and embrace her during this difficult time at Thanksgiving."

Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County sheriff, told ABC News that deputies had found the body of one child during the night.

Babeu told ABC News that authorities could not determine if the body was that of a boy or a girl.

The childrens' mother is divorced from their father, who was one of the pilots onboard the plane, Babeu said. The father had picked up his three children in Mesa, Ariz., where they resided with their mother, to take them to Safford for Thanksgiving, Babeu said.

Babeu told ABC News he expected to release the identities of all but one victim Thursday afternoon, once all immediate family members have been notified. He said officials were having difficulty reaching one member of a victim's immediate family, who was out of the country.

A 40-person recovery team began searching the mountainous terrain at first light Thursday morning for bodies and signs of what went wrong when the plane smashed into the mountain at 200 mph.

Helicopters transported two search and rescue deputies at a time, carrying teams that repelled into the tight caverns.

The recovery team, which Babeu said comprises "some of the best-trained pros in the country," is working rapidly to find the remaining five bodies and evidence before 4 p.m. Thursday.

"There's a window because of some storm concerns," he said. "Some of the evidence and wreckage is strewn for some distance."

The crash is believed to have involved a Rockwell AC69 twin-engine plane that had just departed from Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., according to the Federal Aviation Administration's Allen Kenitzer.

However, the exact make of the plane has still not been confirmed.

The mountainous terrain presents a challenge in the recovery effort. The remains of the plane's fuselage were wedged vertically in a crevice-type formation that was not easily accessible, Babeu said.

Officials now believe the plane crashed before 5 p.m. local time. Earlier reports placed the time of the crash east of Phoenix later in the evening.

Witnesses said they saw the plane crash, causing an eruption of flames.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov242011

Search Continues for Victims of Plane Crash

Bill Cummings/Desert Breeze Photography(PHOENIX) -- A plane crashed Wednesday evening in Arizona's Superstition Mountains, creating a fireball captured on video and leaving officials voicing little hope for survivors. Officials says rescue crews were battling the fire well into Thursday morning.

Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County sheriff, tells ABC News Radio deputies have found the body of one child between the ages of 5 and 9 and that the search for more survivors or victims continues.

Officials believe the twin-engine plane was carrying three adults and three children.

Initial indications were that the incident about 4,500 feet up Flat Iron Mountain involved a general aviation plane, not a commercial flight. Passenger flights at major area airports all were safe and accounted for, officials told ABC News.

Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, told AZCentral.com that there were "multiple fatalities," and evidence that the crash involved a twin-engine plane.

Witnesses said they saw the plane crash and flames erupt after 6:30 p.m. local time, according to ABC News Phoenix affiliate KNXV.

"What we saw was a small plane," Mark Klein, who lives at the base of the Superstition Mountains, told ABC News Radio. "It only had the red and green lights on the wings on, and it just ran into the mountain. I looked, like fireworks and then a big explosion."

The video posted on YouTube purported to capture the plane crash. It showed lights moving in the darkness and then a flash in the distance. A local resident told ABC News he took the video from his house in Gold Canyon, Ariz., about seven miles away from the crash site.

Dark video transmitted from the scene appeared to show fires in the mountain terrain.

The Federal Aviation Administration initially said it had no reports of a plane crash in the area.

Video Courtesy of Ryan Johnston

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Plane Reportedly Crashes in Arizona's Superstition Mountains

Comstock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- A plane crashed Wednesday evening in Arizona's Superstition Mountains, creating a fireball captured on video and leaving officials voicing little hope for survivors.

Initial indications were that the incident about 4,500 feet up Flat Iron Mountain involved a general aviation plane, not a commercial flight. Passenger flights at major area airports all were safe and accounted for, officials told ABC News.

Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, told AZCentral.com that there were "multiple fatalities," and evidence that the crash involved a twin-engine plane.

Witnesses said they saw the plane crash and flames erupt after 6:30 p.m. local time, according to ABC News Phoenix affiliate KNXV.

"What we saw was a small plane," Mark Klein, who lives at the base of the Superstition Mountains, told ABC News Radio. "It only had the red and green lights on the wings on, and it just ran into the mountain. I looked, like fireworks and then a big explosion."

The video posted on YouTube purported to capture the plane crash. It showed lights moving in the darkness and then a flash in the distance. A local resident told ABC News he took the video from his house in Gold Canyon, Ariz., about seven miles away from the crash site.

Dark video transmitted from the scene appeared to show fires in the mountain terrain.

The Federal Aviation Administration initially said it had no reports of a plane crash in the area.

Video Courtesy of Ryan Johnston

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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