Air crash victims remembered a year later
A year after the crash of a small plane killed all 10 people aboard in eastern Utah, investigators still are searching for the cause.
The twin-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Canyonlands Field Airport near Moab on Aug. 22, 2008, killing the pilot and nine employees from Southwest Skin and Cancer/Red Canyon Aesthetics & Medical Spa in Cedar City.
The National Transportation Safety Board may take another six months to a year before issuing a report, spokesman Keith Holloway said.
"We are very thorough and methodical in the investigations,'' he said, adding it typically takes 12 to 24 months to determine the cause of plane crashes.
The dermatology clinic employees had flown to Moab to provide cancer screening and treatment there, and were headed back home to Cedar City, a rapidly growing city of 28,000 in southwestern Utah.
Ladd Sanger, a Dallas lawyer who specializes in aviation accident cases, said the weight of the plane is among possible factors because it appeared to be "fairly heavily loaded.'' There also may have been a potential for a stall.
"Stalls at low-flying altitudes are particularly dangerous because pilots can't recover, and the plane crashes," Sanger told The Spectrum.
Dane Leavitt, chairman of the Leavitt Group that owned the plane, said an independent review commissioned by his company ruled out pilot error.
Leavitt said pilot David White was exceptional and had more than 2,000 hours of flying experience.
"Our own review suggests that there was easily sufficient runway for takeoff at the then-applicable density altitude," he said. "Our review leads us to be confident that the plane was approximately 600 pounds under gross allowable weight.
"While we look forward to the NTSB report, we recognize the very strong possibility that we may never learn the cause," Leavitt added.