CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – More details have been released regarding a fatal plane crash that killed four people in Cedar City on April 23.
The victims identified in the deadly plane crash were Steven Eatchel of Springville, his wife Lindsay Eatchel, Thomas Eatchel and Danielle Deagostini of Sandy. Steven, who was also the pilot, was a corrections deputy with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) for almost 12 years.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSA) “Aviation Accident Preliminary Report” has now been officially released with more details of the fatal incident.
The downed aircraft, a 2004 Diamond DA-40, was first discovered about five miles east of Cedar City on SR-14 around 6:47 p.m. on April 23.
Authorities say the plane had taken off from the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport around 2:45 p.m with the “intent to fly a multi-leg round-robin cross-county flight.”
The pilot planned stops at Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC), Bryce Canyon Airport (BCE), Canyonlands Regional Airport (CNY) and Carbon County Regional Airport/Buck Davis Field (PUC), before returning home to Spanish Fork.
The report shows the plane first departed Spanish Fork with about 40 gallons of fuel before stopping around 4:15 p.m. to refuel. Airport surveillance camera footage shows the pilot refueling about 14 gallons of fuel as the passengers disembarked for a bit. As all passengers re-embarked the airplane, the aircraft took off again.
An eyewitness who was driving westbound down Cedar Canyon on State Highway 14 says he saw the plane “flying up the canyon over the river, about 300 feet above ground level.”
The witness says as the plane passed over him, it turned left and right in quick maneuvers that appeared similar to a “rocking motion.” The witness says the plane’s propeller appeared to be unpowered and “not windmilling.”
A second eyewitness spotted the plane flying low and after the airplane had passed over him, he looked in the mirror and witnessed the airplane “bank really hard to the south, back across the highway as if the airplane were trying to turn around in the narrow canyon.”
The witness mentioned the plane’s wings appeared “almost vertical and the airplane didn’t look like it had enough speed to pull off that maneuver.”
When authorities arrived at the crash scene, they discovered the airplane in flames and had “impacted mountainous terrain along the southern edge of a canyon.” The first point of crash contact was a tall tree with damaged limbs, according to the report.
Authorities say based on the debris, plane orientation and foliage damage, it appeared the plane had crashed while heading west from an easterly direction.
The Iron County Sheriff’s Office responded to the deadly crash saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all family members and friends of the deceased.”
The pilot, Steven Eatchel, and his wife Lindsay Eatchel leave behind four children.
“The Utah County Sheriff’s Office expresses its sincerest condolences to the Eatchel family,” authorities say. “His kind manner and ever present smile will be missed.”