IRON COUNTY, Utah — Officials have identified the four people killed in a small plane crash Saturday evening near Cedar City.
Around 7 p.m., authorities received a report of a fire near State Route 14, about five miles east of Cedar City. When police and fire crews responded, they found the burning remains of a Diamond DA-40 single-engine aircraft.
The plane had flown from the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport to the Cedar Regional Airport Saturday afternoon, according to the Iron County Sheriff's Office. The group then took off at 6:38 p.m. for a sightseeing tour of Zion National Park and was flying east along SR-14, but radar communication was lost four minutes later.
“It appears that they tried to get turned around and were flying back west when their wing clipped a tree and caused them to go into the side of the mountain,” said Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter.
The sheriff’s office said there was no distress call made before the crash.
Four people were on board, and they were all pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials identified the victims as Steven Eatchel of Springville, Lindsay Eatchel of Springville, Thomas Eatchel of Heber City, and Danielle Deagostini of Sandy.
Steven Eatchel, the pilot, was a deputy with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. He worked in the county courts and had been with the sheriff’s office since 2010.
“It starts to sink in a little bit,” said UCSO Sgt. Spencer Cannon. “It almost seems unreal.”
Steven and Lindsay Eatchel were married, and they leave behind four children.
“He was a genuinely kind person. He had a perpetual smile on his face, you know?” said Cannon.
Thomas Eatchel and Steven Eatchel were brothers, according to the family, and Danielle Deagostini was Thomas Eatchel's girlfriend. They had stopped to visit family in Cedar City before taking off again and crashing just minutes later.
Carpenter said it was especially difficult for responders once they learned Steven Eatchel was a fellow deputy.
“That really kind of brings it home to us," he said. "This is a family here in Cedar City who was affected, and it’s a member of our law enforcement family."
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration landed in Cedar City Sunday to investigate the cause of the crash.
“I think what we’re all reaching for when we talk to somebody in a circumstance like this is an answer to questions that’s going to make it all go away, and that’s not going to happen,” said Cannon.
GoFundMe pages have been created to help cover the families’ funeral expenses. To donate to the loved ones of Thomas Eatchel, click here. To donate to the children and family of Steven and Lindsay Eatchel, click here.