Federal investigators are looking for witnesses who may have seen or heard a small airplane crash that killed four men about 30 miles north of Billings, Montana, Saturday evening.
Yellowstone County Sheriff ’s Department Mike Linder said Sunday night that a preliminary visual inspection of the airplane crash scene shows evidence that the plane likely clipped a radio tower wire at the top of Dunn Mountain, according to Billings’ KTVQ News.
The crash killed pilot David Healow, 69; Rusty Jungels, 36; Mikel Peterson, 35; and Raymond Rumbold, 32;, all of Billings. There were no others in the plane.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are leading an investigation of the airplane crash. According to the Billings Gazette, a search for the airplane’s tail number in the FAA database shows the plane was a 1978 Cessna TR182, a fixed-wing single-engine plane that typically seats four people.
The FAA said that it believes the plane departed from Hardin, Montana, around 5:40 p.m. and was headed to Billings, about 50 miles west. Authorities believe the airplane crashed about 6 p.m. Sunday.
A helicopter search discovered the crash scene near the bottom of a slope on the west face of Dunn Mountain Sunday morning. Search crews traveling on ATVs accessed the wreckage and recovered the bodies later in the day.
According to the Billings Gazette, the FAA and NTSB will include the manufacturer of the airplane and the engine manufacturer in its investigation.
In addition to the aircraft and the engine, the NTSB will look into a number of other potential causes, including the site of the crash, the aircraft, the pilot’s history, experience and health; aircraft maintenance records; and local weather conditions at the time.
Witnesses often play a critical role in airplane crash investigations. Investigators typically search for anyone who may have witnessed the crash, particularly those who were close to the crash site and anyone who may have captured video of the accident.
Mr. Healow is registered on the FAA’s online Airmen database. He was certified as an airline transport pilot, flight instructor and ground instructor, the Billings Gazette reported.
Mike Andrews, a lawyer in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability section, focuses much of his practice on aviation accident litigation. He has represented people seriously injured in aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. Currently, Mike represents family members of victims in the Ethiopian Airlines crash involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.