MOAB, Utah (ABC4) — Officials from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death of a North Dakota state senator and his family last night, Oct. 1, following a tragic crash of a small single-engine aircraft at Canyon Lands Regional Airport in Moab.

Senator Douglas Larsen of Mandan, North Dakota, was piloting the plane. Larsen and his wife Amy, and two sons, reportedly landed at Canyonlands at an unspecified time yesterday, departed the airport in a vehicle, and returned that evening. After refueling, the Piper Cherokee took off and crashed soon after. There are limited details on the crash, or the cause, and a team from the National Transportation Safety Board are on scene and have started their investigation.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrman, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, released statements this afternoon about the loss of Larsen and his family. Larsen was a 29-year member of the North Dakota Army National Guard and had served in the State Senate since 2021, representing District 34.

“First Lady Kathryn, Lt. Gov. Miller and I are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Sen. Doug Larsen, his wife, Amy, and their two young sons. Sen. Larsen was a father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, businessman, state senator and lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard who committed himself fully to each of those roles with an unwavering sense of honor and duty,” said Burgum, commander-in-chief of the North Dakota National Guard. “As a legislator, he was a tenacious advocate for individual rights and the freedoms he defended through his military service. We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family and friends and join his legislative colleagues, National Guard brothers and sisters and the Mandan community in mourning the tragic passing of Sen. Larsen and his family.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

“I am saddened by the loss of Doug Larsen, his wife Amy, and their two sons. I cannot think of a more tragic loss for one family, and the North Dakota National Guard sends our condolences to all of their friends and family,” Dohrmann said. “Doug was a true patriot who dedicated his life, both in and out of uniform, to serving others. I had the distinct pleasure to call him a Brother in Arms.”

Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrman, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard

According to a statement from the North Dakota Governor’s Office, Larsen enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard on March 14, 1994, as a combat engineer. He completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and was appointed as a commissioned officer on Aug. 18, 2001. He served as an engineer officer and later became an aviation officer on Oct. 19, 2006.

Larsen was mobilized twice: once in 2009-2010 to Iraq as the company commander for Charlie Company of the 2-285th Assault Battalion, and again in 2013-2014 to Washington, D.C., in support of Operation Noble Eagle with the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery Battalion. He earned numerous honors and awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star and Army Aviator Badge.