NTSB releases preliminary report on Santa Clara plane crash

Wreckage of a plane crash southwest of the City of Santa Clara, May 7, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office

ST. GEORGE – A preliminary report regarding the May 7 plane crash near Santa Clara that killed two men has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report corresponds with initial information released by Washington County Sheriff’s Office surrounding the incident.

Wreckage of a plane crash southwest of the City of Santa Clara, May 7, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department
Wreckage of a plane crash southwest of the City of Santa Clara, May 7, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department

The crash involved a two-seat Cessna 150F plane occupied by Gary Hawes, 75, of St. George, and Brad Brian, 38, of Washington. The plane was registered to Above View Aviation. Hawes was identified as a flight instructor and Brian as a student pilot.

NTSB Investigator Thomas Little, who wrote the preliminary report, said the investigation is ongoing and could take six months to a year to complete.

The plane crashed into the side of a mountain in the Santa Clara River Reserve, an area crisscrossed with biking trails. The crash occurred around 8:55 a.m., and weather was reported as being clear with calm winds, the report stated.

The report confirms statements made by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at the scene, and stated:

“…A witness reported that he and a family member were riding the Rim Trail when they observed the airplane overhead proceeding west. The witness stated that after a few minutes he heard the airplane ‘sputter’, and the(n) nose diving, then lost sight of it when it went behind a hill; he didn’t hear anything and couldn’t confirm that it had gone down. The witness reported that about an hour and a half later while riding on the Barrel Roll Trail, he came upon the airplane wreckage, and reported it to local authorities.”

Jonathan Hawkins was the one who witnessed the plane nose drive and also subsequently found the plane wreckage.

Little, along with representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and others, visited the crash site on May 8 and began an examination. Little noted in his report that, “The underside of the cockpit/cabin area sustained significant deformation due to severe impact damage with the rock-laden terrain.”

All components needed for flight were accounted for at the crash site, the report stated.

As the report is preliminary, findings are subject to change pending completion of the investigation which will be releases in a future, final report.

The preliminary report can be read in full here.


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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • misty mann May 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Although I appreciate the follow-up of the story I am very disappointed to see the misspelling of Brad Brian’s name. I believe it is the least you can do as a writer of facts, to check and re-check them before posting and publishing anything. One can only hope his family will not have to be burdened with this careless blunder through reading your story.

    • Drew Allred May 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks for the catch. Error is fixed.

    • Rachel May 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Please try and understand what it is like to be a reporter. New happens fast and, as a society, we demand instant information. When information comes out that fast, mistakes are to be expected. Editors no longer have the luxury of having until print to correct mistakes. Also keep in mind that spell check does not catch correctly spelled words. Instead of being so irritated by the misspelling of the name (and DO NOT mistake me, I feel for the victims’ families) a simple, “hey guys, did you notice that you spelled ___ name wrong?” would have sufficed.

  • Becka May 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm


  • Craig July 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Just an observation; I fly a paramotor and flew over the crash site the next morning. From the physical evidence it looked as though whatever the emergency was, it caused them to attempt a landing on the bluff. However, they were carrying too much speed to stop but not enough to fly so the momentum carried them off the edge. It was the only way I could see that the plane could have ended up in that final position. To me, they lost power for some reason and she was gong down fast. They probably survived the initial contact on the bluff but the 200 foot nose dive into the rocks was the fatal blow. It was tragic. I am so sorry for their family’s loss.

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