Witnesses to a small plane crash in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains reacted with disbelief and horror as the aircraft flew straight into the rugged terrain, killing all six people on board.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Department today released the 911 calls placed moments after the crash.
“We were just watching it and it flew right into the freakin’ mountain,” the first caller said. “It looked like they flew … like they didn’t know Ship Rock was there.”
The caller, a resident who seemed familiar with the rugged terrain, continued to describe the plane as exploding as soon as it hit the mountains.
“We were watching it fly over and it burst into fire,” he said. “Oh my god.”
Following the first call, the Pinal County sheriff’s dispatcher received numerous others, but explained to the worried residents that units were already en route to the scene.
The plane crashed into the face of the Superstition Mountains at around 5 p.m. Wednesday shortly after takeoff. The victims of the fiery crash were identified as Shawn Perry, 39, of Safford, Ariz., who was flying his three young children: Morgan, 9; Logan, 8; and Luke, 6. The children live with their mother Karen in Canyon, Ariz., and were traveling with their father to spend Thanksgiving with him in Safford, Ariz.
The other two adults on board were identified as Russel Hardy, 31, who was the co-owner of the Rockwell AC69 twin-engine plane, and Joseph Hardwick, 22, a mechanic who was engaged to be married on Dec. 16.
Since the fiery crash, rescuers searched for remains of victims and pieces of the plane. Yet in the past few days, officials say people have attempted to climb to the crash site and one person even dropped off a bone fragment at the ranger’s station.
“For some reason, beyond what we can understand, there’s people that want to go up there,” sheriff’s department spokesman Elias Johnson said. “We don’t need that, everything we need off the mountain we got off the mountain.
“There’s just no way to close down that upper portion,” Johnson said. “We’ve had several people ask us about how to get up there, and we’re not helping anyone by giving them directions.”
According to The Associated Press, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator says radar data shows the pilot turned to the southeast and “basically flew straight and level” until the plane hit the mountains. The investigator’s preliminary report is expected to be released within days.