Wednesday, December 8, 2004

2 killed in plane crash

Express Staff Writer

Firefighters from Bellevue, Hailey, Wood River Fire and Rescue and Friedman Memorial Airport converged on a Bellevue Triangle farmer's field Monday morning to extinguish the blaze from a fatal crash of a Salmon Air Cessna 208 cargo plane making a delivery for UPS. Both the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash. Photo by Willy Cook

Burning air express packages told most of the story of why Bellevue Triangle residents saw unusual smoke Monday morning in the sky just south of Baseline Road.

A Cessna 208 Caravan cargo plane owned by Salmon Air and under contract to the United Parcel Service crashed and burned about 10:30 a.m. in a field at the south end of Kingsbury Lane, about six miles south of Bellevue, according to Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot, Fred Villaneuva, 60, of Farmington, Utah, and a passenger, Raymond Ingram, 32, of Salmon, Idaho, perished. They were identified by Blaine County Coroner Russ Mikel.

Only pieces of the prop and a wheel were visible from behind the fire line separating the public from the smoldering debris.

"It's not discernable. You can't tell what it is. It's just in pieces," said Friedman Memorial Airport Manager Rick Baird, describing the scene of the crash to a caller on his cell phone. He said the plane was on approach for a landing at the airport and the manifest for the flight showed no hazardous materials on board.

The FAA reported the plane, on an instrument flight plan from Sale Lake City, had been cleared to land at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey and apparently had begun the approach after the last radio contact at 10:20 a.m. The FAA reported the accident occurred at 10:23 a.m.

Weather at the time in the area included cloudy skies with a visibility of about six miles.

Mikel transported the bodies from the accident scene Tuesday to Boise to be autopsied, said Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Gene Ramsey.

National Transportation and Safety Board investigator Deborah Eckrote arrived at the scene Tuesday from Seattle to determine probable cause of the accident.

Fire fighting crews from Bellevue, Hailey, Wood River Fire and Rescue, Friedman Memorial Airport and other first responders extinguished the fire that was caused by the impact, Baird said.

Wood River Fire and Rescue Chief Bart Lassman finally cleared the scene at 4:30 p.m.

The single-engine turboprop crashed about 100 yards from a farmhouse and narrowly missed irrigation pivots.

"I was out feeding the horses. I thought it was somebody burning something," said John McClatchy, of Picabo.

A spokesperson for Salmon Air confirmed the loss of a plane.

Several customers called the Hailey UPS Store with tracking numbers to see if next day air packages had arrived, said Ryan Vossler, an employee at the Hailey store.

"We've had several calls from people looking for their next day air packages," Vossler said. He said the store receives nine to 10 air packages a day from the UPS hub in Salt Lake City.

"We expect delivery to the store between 9:30 and 10 a.m., mostly letters and documents," he said. "We haven't gotten anything today."

The high-wing, single-engine Caravan, still in production, first flew in the 1980s as a successor to aging aircraft such as the Beaver, Otter and other Cessna aircraft. Since the mid-1980s, some 1,200 Caravans have been manufactured, with 108 of them involved in accidents that took 238 lives. When configured for passengers, it can carry 14 persons at 200 mph speeds at altitudes of up to 27,000 feet.

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