Tue, April 07

Plane crash kills two in Jerome

Staff photo by Angela DeWelles

JEROME Mayor Jay Kinsella was the first on the scene of Saturday's plane crash. Kinsella, with help from Jerome volunteer fire fighter Bert Doss, left, drives the bodies from the rugged terrain of the crash site.

A small aircraft, carrying two people, crashed about a half-mile north east of the Jerome Historical Park at approximately 7 a.m. The crash site is at the foot old mine tailings. According to a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office official, the land is owned by United Verde Exploration.

Both occupants were dead on arrival of the first rescue workers.

Early reports indicate that the aircraft was a home built kit plane. As of Saturday afternoon, the cause of the crash had not been determined.

"We don't know anything about the plane at this point," said YCSO Lt. James Jarrell.

Jarrell said that a witness had reported seeing the plane flying very low. Next it dropped from view.

"Then he saw smoke," Jarrell said.

Jerome Mayor Jay Kinsella was the first on the scene. He said he too saw a plume of smoke from his nearby home and went to investigate. When he arrived, portions of the plane were still on fire.

"There wasn't anything I could do at that point," Kinsella said.

The Jerome Fire Department soon arrived and extinguished the fire. Jarrell said that the plane was burned, but wasn't totally consumed. Investigators were able to identify a portion of the tail section and other fragments.

YCSO Deputy Roial Armstrong confirmed that a shoe, flight guide, watch and glasses were found among the wreckage.

He said that because it was a kit plane, the craft was not required to be registered nationally. But YCSO investigators were able to determine the registered owner. Finding who was actually on the plane and the cause of the crash is what's next for investigators.

"We believe they're local," Armstrong said of the plane's owner.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration will not be coming to the scene, according to Armstrong. YCSO will be in charge of taking pictures of the site, but the investigation is still in the hands of the NTSB.

Mike Butcher, assistant chief of the Jerome Fire Department, was at the site soon after Kinsella. He said he saw smoke from his home and initially called it in as a brush fire.

"It must have been one big explosion," Butcher said. "There's not much left of it at all."

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