PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — Officials with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office released the identities of the two men who were killed in a plane crash near Provo on Tuesday morning as Evan Backers, 26, of South Jordan, and Collin Niemela, 23, of Santaquin.
Backers and Niemela were two of three passengers aboard the plane that crashed into rugged terrain on the east side of Slate Canyon near Kyhv Peak Road.
According to a GoFundMe page created Wednesday, Backers was a husband and father to a 16-month-old son. He and his wife were expecting another child in April.
“His family was the center of his world, and he loved them more than anything else,” his relatives wrote on the fundraising page. “As the main financial provider for his family, Evan’s passing has left them facing unimaginable grief and financial challenges.”
Backers was pursuing a career in aviation, the GoFundMe page said.
Another GoFundMe was also created Wednesday for Niemela. The fundraiser page, created by his friends, described Niemela as a “bright light in our lives, a source of laughter, and a true friend.”
A 22-year-old man from Springville, who has yet to be identified by authorities, survived the crash and was found walking around the crash site when crews arrived. He was life-flighted to the Utah Valley Hospital, and according to the Federal Aviation Administration, his injuries were considered “serious.”
Crews worked for hours to recover Baker and Niemela from the crash, which was reportedly located several miles up the canyon. According to Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon, it took first responders 45 minutes to hike to the crash site.
Cannon said the plane took off from the Spanish Fork airport before it crashed into Slate Canyon, though it hasn’t been revealed where the plane was heading. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.