PC-12 Crash May Have Killed 17

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photo by Jerry Search

An FAA spokesman is quoted by the New York Times as saying as many as 17 people, many of them children, were on board a 12-seat Pilatus PC-12 and all died when the aircraft crashed and exploded in a cemetery in Butte, Montana on Sunday. Les Dorr told the Times that 14 to 17 people were on the aircraft, which left Oroville, Calif., 70 miles north of Sacramento, Calif. for Bozeman, Mont.. The plane diverted to Butte en route and crashed within 500 feet of the airport. The reason for the diversion has not been released but Butte would have been a closer alternative if the pilot had been experiencing problems. According to FlightAware, the flight originated at Brown Field in San Diego and made three stops before the crash.

Local media is reporting that the aircraft was loaded with children heading for a ski vacation. The aircraft involved was owned by Eagle Cap Leasing, of Enterprise, Ore., and had reportedly been rented. The crash aircraft was certified for 12 occupants, including pilots. It's not clear whether there was a co-pilot on board. The NTSB has sent investigators and more details are expected Monday.