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Plane crash victim described as devoted family man with passion for aviation

Posted at 9:51 PM, Nov 16, 2023

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Two people were killed and another person was injured in a plane crash Tuesday morning in a remote area of Slate Canyon in Utah County.

26-year-old Evan Backers of South Jordan and 23-year-old Collin Niemala of Santaquin died in the crash.

A 22-year-old man aboard the plane, who hasn't been identified at this time survived and was taken to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff's Office told FOX 13 News on Thursday the man is expected to recover.

Kyle Backers is Evan's older brother.

"He was just amazing when he was the, the most selfless person I know," Kyle said.

Kyle couldn't help but smile and shed a few tears when describing Evan.

"You couldn't beat his sense of humor and his patience and his just dedication to his family, his house is basically, sorry, it's basically a monument to what a good dad he was going to be," Kyle said.

A devoted family man, who Kyle says, had a real passion for aviation.

"He ended up getting this private, then we both ended up moving to Utah, 2-3 years later and he finished up with some other instructors out here, an instrument commercial," Kyle said.

Kyle said Evan had been flying, on and off for about eight years.

He says he last spoke to Evan Monday night.

"The fifteenth, we were going fly out to Oklahoma and so, he called me and I told him I would just tell him I had a funny story to tell him, and I was just going tell him when we got on the plane," Kyle said.

A story Kyle would unfortunately not get to tell his younger brother.

The Cessna 172G carrying the three men crashed Tuesday morning.

Sgt. Cannon said Thursday night he is unsure who was piloting the plane when it crashed. He says the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the lead investigative agency looking into what caused the crash.

"It just still seems impossible that somebody could, could be right where he was in his life just getting started, just getting enough hours to make it to where he needed to be, and just as a family, a year and a half old son and another baby on the way," Kyle said.

Kyle says Evan squeezed the most out of his 26 years of life and was someone you could always turn to and rely on.

He shared one of the last conversations he had with his brother who will stay with him.

"We just talked about everything we wanted to accomplish in the next few years and, didn't have much of a chance to get started," Kyle said. "He's going be really missed."

A GoFundMe page was created for the Backers family here.

A GoFundMe was also put together for Niemala's family as well here.

According to GoFundMe, "Whether Collin was cheering us up with his infectious laughter or lending a helping hand, his impact on our lives is immeasurable."