On Thursday, the NTSB released its preliminary report on an Oct. 1 plane crash in Moab that killed North Dakota Senator Doug Larsen and his family.
According to the report, the aircraft collided with a hill shortly after takeoff before crashing into the ground about a half-mile away from the runway. At the time of the takeoff roll, the pilot-controlled runway lights were not illuminated.
Security footage showed the aircraft, a Piper PA-28-140, landing at the Canyonlands Regional Airport (KCNY) in Moab, Utah, around 5:47 p.m. An FBO employee stated he saw the pilot take on 27 gallons of fuel from the self-serve fuel island before parking the aircraft and borrowing the courtesy car for a few hours.
The report states the four occupants returned and boarded the airplane around 8:11 p.m. A witness reported it was very dark outside with no illumination from the moon. The witness said after the aircraft took off, it banked steeply to the right and then appeared to lose altitude. ADS-B data corroborated the witness’ statement, showing the aircraft climb to 200 feet during the right turn after takeoff before descending.
According to the NTSB, a “examination of the engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operations.”
A clear indication of what caused the crash was not available. The NTSB will release a final report later.