About 10:20am, on the morning of July 13th, the city of Deer Park was shocked to learn there had been a small aircraft crash only a few miles west of the Deer Park Airport. Stevens County Sheriff and Fire District 1 responded to multiple phone calls regarding the crash. Questions abounded in the community and theories were immediately spun. The first word came from the eyewitness account of a local student pilot from the Deer Park Airport who had flown over the wreck shortly after the crash. Hours passed before another piece of the puzzle was added by Moody Aviation. In a statement, Moody said that one of their missionary training planes had gone down, but they had very little additional information.
On July 17th Moody Aviation released another statement giving the names of the victims as Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Diego Senn, and student pilots Joochan (Austen) Lee, and Andrew Trouten. All three of the men had families, and two had babies on the way. After this, there were no updates. Memorial services were held for the three men and GoFundMe campaigns were started to help support their wives and children.
On August 1st, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their preliminary report, and though it offers some answers, it leaves us with many questions. According to the report, the Cessna 172R Skyhawk, being flown by one of the student pilots, left Felts Field Airport at about 9:55am. Around 10:20am witnesses reported that the aircraft appeared to be in a steep dive toward the terrain, when they subsequently saw the wings breaking off the body of the plane. The cause of this inflight breakup is unknown. The wreckage was distributed over 400ft distance; all of the debris was recovered for further examination.
This report is preliminary and contains no conclusive analysis, nor does it discuss probable cause. The information is subject to change at any time by the NTSB, based on their ongoing investigation; it could take up to a year for this case to be finalized.
If you would like to help support the widows of Diego Senn, Joochan (Austen) Lee, and Andrew Trouten, please see the GoFundMe links below.