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UPDATE: Four people killed in plane crash are identified

(The wreckage of the Cessna crash in American Fork Canyon. Credit: Megan Thackery, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — The people on board an airplane that crashed Friday morning near Box Elder Peak, in American Fork Canyon, have been identified.

Utah County Search and Rescue confirm that pilot Tyson Colby Brummett age 35, of Salt Lake City, Alex Blackhurst Ruegner age 35 of Riverton; as well as Alex’s aunt and uncle, Elaine W. Blackhurst, age 60, of Riverton and her husband Douglas Robinson Blackhurst, age 62, of Riverton, were aboard the plane when it crashed. There were no survivors.

Their flight originated from South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan.

Just before 8 a.m., 911 dispatchers got a call from Gregg Rawlings who witnessed the crash while he was hiking with his sons along the Dry Creek Trailhead.  After about an hour of hiking they were taking a rest near a summit when they saw the plan in the distance.  Rawlings says the plane was getting lower and wouldn’t have been able to clear the mountain.  As it got closer, Rawlings says the pilot made a hard right turn then started corkscrewing out of control.

“We lost the visual on the airplane because it dropped below the tree line from where we were, but just seconds later, we heard the impact at the bottom of the canyon.  We could tell at that point that it wasn’t a good thing,” he says.

They tried to call 911 right away, but Rawlings and his sons had to hike a while before they were able to get a cell phone signal.  He says they told dispatchers where the plane went down, but after that, they raced back to the crash site to see if anyone had survived.

He says, “I just turned to my boys and I said, ‘That is someone’s family down there.  We need to go see what happened.  We need to check it out.’”

Rawlings says, sadly, when they made it to the wreckage it was obvious no one survived.  Shortly after that, search crews spotted the crash site overhead. 

While trying to get to the plane, Rawlings says they bumped into a few other campers and none of them heard the crash.  Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon says if Rawlings and his sons hadn’t been there to witness it, investigators wouldn’t have known that a plane had gone missing for several hours, and they wouldn’t have known where to look.

“We’re fortunate in this situation that there were people there who saw [the crash], so we got notification about it as immediately as you can,” Cannon says.

When search crews reached the plane, they confirmed all four people inside were dead.   Cannon says the crash happened in an area that’s so remote, the only logical way for investigators to get there is by helicopter.

“It’s a very difficult area to access, so, we contacted the Utah Department of Public Safety and they came with their helicopter,” he says.

The NTSB will determine why the crash happened.