Park City couple perishes in Wyoming plane crash
A man and wife who lived in Park City died in a plane crash in Wyoming on Feb. 18 and were remembered as a loving couple.
William Patterson was 71 and Michelle Patterson was 62. They were the only two people aboard the plane. The husband was the pilot.
Rowdy Dean, the chief deputy at the Sheriff’s Office in Uinta County, Wyoming, said the crash occurred at a little after 3 p.m. approximately one mile north of Evanston along the Bear River. The Pattersons were found dead at the scene. They were in a Socata TBM 700 single-engine propeller airplane, he said.
Dean said the plane was traveling from Oklahoma and was preparing to land at Evanston-Uinta County Airport in Evanston. It crashed approximately two miles from the airport. He said emergency dispatchers received several calls from people saying an airplane may have crashed. The authorities contacted the airport and learned that a plane was overdue.
Firefighters, Sheriff’s Office deputies and a search-and-rescue team looked for a crashed plane before a resident found the wreckage, Dean said. The searchers found the plane in a large patch of willow and cottonwood trees, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. Dean said the federal officials brought the wreckage to Greeley, Colorado, as part of the investigation.
Dean said the Pattersons had addresses in Park City and Evanston.
Ken Tolpinrud, who lives in the Holiday Ranch neighborhood of Park Meadows, said he and William Patterson served on a homeowners association together. He knew the couple for approximately four years. There was shock and disbelief after people learned of the crash and fatalities, he said.
“They were two of the most gracious and accomplished people my wife and I met, ever,” Tolpinrud said.
William Patterson was a retired executive, he said. Tolpinrud said Patterson had his own plane the entire time he knew him, describing him as an experienced pilot and as someone who loved to fly.
Tolpinrud said he flew with Patterson a number of times. He said Patterson enjoyed the “exhilaration of being in the air.”
“It just hurts to lose them,” he said.
Jason Aguilera, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board based in Denver, said the work at the accident scene is complete. The plane crashed in a remote part of a ranch, Aguilera, who traveled to the location, said.
Aguilera said there was snow in the area, but the weather conditions at the time of the accident are not yet known.
The National Transportation Safety Board has ordered an autopsy and toxicology report on the pilot’s body. Aguilera said the pilot’s experience will also be researched. The steps are standard in an investigation of a plane crash. The investigation is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.
Mike LaSalle, who is the manager at the Evanston-Uinta County Airport, said people headed to or from Park City occasionally use the airport. There are also a few people from Park City or Coalville who keep planes there, he said.
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