Pilot dies in crash of small aircraft in Willow Canyon
A small plane crashed in Willow Creek Canyon on Saturday, killing the pilot and starting a small fire.
The pilot was identified as Mark James Rich, 59, of Menlo Park, California.
According to a press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, at 1:54 p.m., Aug. 19, as numerous planes carrying eclipse visitors were arriving at the Madras Municipal Airport, a small plane crashed in the canyon, one mile south of the airport.
Emergency responders reached the 2002 fixed wing, single-engine aircraft from the south side of the canyon and found it fully engulfed in flames near the top of the canyon. Responders included sheriff's deputies, Oregon state troopers, and fire and emergency medical personnel. The fire was brought under control, and no other property was damaged.
"Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins and his team have completed the first steps of their investigation … and have now concluded that only one person, the pilot, was aboard the aircraft," the press release said.
Initially it was thought there may have been two people aboard, because of lodging reservations tied to the plane for two persons. Adkins said emergency personnel contacted the owners of the downed plane and are now certain only one person was onboard.
"After talking to a family member who had originally planned to make the trip, but changed plans, we can confirm there was just one person on the flight," Adkins said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are conducting their own investigation of the accident.