NTSB begins investigation into deadly Elko plane crash

Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 21:18:12-05

ELKO, Nev. — Federal investigators are looking into the cause of a deadly plane crash in Elko, Nevada.

The community mourns the loss of American Medflight pilot, Yuji Irie, medical staff Tiffany Urresti, and Jake Shepherd – who worked as a paramedic in Tooele. They were transporting Edward Clohesey, a heart patient, to the University of Utah Friday evening.

After taking off from the Elko Regional Airport, the Piper PA 31 airplane crashed into a parking lot owned by Barrick Gold. No one on the ground was hurt but the fire destroyed several vehicles.

It’s now up to the National Transportation Safety Board to figure out what went wrong.

“Probably 10-15 seconds or so after the takeoff the pilot lost control of the airplane for some reason and couldn`t regain control before impacting the ground,” said Chris Shaver, Air Safety Investigator NTSB.

Shaver and his team is headed to a secure facility in Phoenix, where they will take a closer look at the plane debris.

“We can lay it out in the hangar, we can spend time really putting together some of the pieces back together,” said Shaver.

The engine will be sent to a laboratory to see if there are any issues.

The challenge is two-thirds of the evidence was destroyed from the fire.

“There may be some things we can still gain from some of the instruments that are still there," said Shaver.

Federal investigators say it could take weeks, even months before they determine a cause.

“Hopefully, we`ll be able to get through that and put the puzzle together,” said Shaver.

While they aren’t drawing any conclusions just yet, Shaver commends the pilot for a avoiding any further casualties.

“Where the airplane ended up was probably under the circumstances the best place he could have gone," said Shaver.

Barrick Gold plans to re-open the parking lot Monday night. They’ve been hesitant to resume activities there because many people have been dropping off flowers to pay their respect.

There are plans underway to possibly build a permanent memorial at the site to honor the victims.