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Pilot killed in mountain crash

Pilot killed in mountain crash Debris located in Mount Jefferson Wilderness

The Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan reported last Thursday that they’d received information an airplane went down near Mount Jefferson. At 4:14 p.m., on September 22nd, hikers in the area reported hearing what sounded like an airplane engine followed by a loud crash.

The two hikers were on the Pacific Crest Trail when they heard the crash and said they could smell fuel but did not see an airplane. The report was followed by the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) contacting LCS Dispatch stating they had an airplane radar that disappeared over the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

At around 6:25 p.m. the AFRCC called back and said they confirmed radar showed a small plane going down and provided a general area.

Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan said the Search and Rescue team, along with Life Flight, were activated to search for the downed airplane. Life Flight flew to the area but was not able to identify a crash site due to weather conditions. Additional air resources (United States Coast Guard) also responded and were unable to locate any downed airplane.

While crews were searching, the AFRCC advised they had received a report of a missing/overdue aircraft from Llano, California. It was identified asst was a single-engine 1996 Piper Cherokee.

The following morning at around 9 a.m., a United States Coast Guard helicopter flying search patterns located the crash site east of Marion Lake between Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack.

The Coast Guard continued search efforts Friday morning and made the announcement via a Tweet shortly before 3 p.m. that the plane and the pilot had been found.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to the friends and family of the individual during this difficult time,” the Coast Guard added.

Linn County Search and Rescue teams hiked into the area and confirmed the pilot was deceased as the crash was not survivable. The identity of the pilot has not been released at this time.

On Monday, the pilot of the plane was identified as Wayne Wirt of Chehalis, Washington. Wirt had reportedly refueled his plane at the Sister's airport at 3 p.m. on Thursday. After he failed to land in Chehalis his family filed a missing person report.

Sheriff Duncan said the investigation is continuing. Wreckage from the crash will be moved to a secure location for a more detailed review of the cause of the crash.


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