On Thursday afternoon a plane crashed near Felts Field, into the Spokane River during a test flight. The two men onboard were fatally injured and died.
The people who witnessed the incident said that the plane seemed to have problems with the engine because it started losing power as it was flying east over Millwood at around 4 PM. According to Andy Hail, Fire Deputy Chief of Spokane Valley, the men remained under water for almost 30 minute until 4:45 PM, when the sheriff’s drivers managed to pull them from the cold water.
Jim Uttke, deputy medical investigator identified the two men as Richard Runyon and Lyndon Amestoy. According to the spokesman it was not known who the pilot was and he did not have the authority to disclose their hometowns or ages.
David Dexter witnessed the plane as it flew overhead from the east of Felts Field. He said that he saw that something was not right and the plane gave out a strange sound, as if it was struggling. According to him the plane pulled out of the dip and afterwards banked to one side. That’s when he lost sight of it. There was not any crash sound, but Dexter explained that after a short time he heard many emergency vehicle sirens.
Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that the plane was a Piper PA46 Piper Malibu. Flying Colors Aviation LLC owned the plane. The company is based in Woodland Hills, California.
Richard La Belle, another witness who came at the Minnehaha rocks as a rock climber, explained that the plane did not pierce the water, but it slapped it. He said that he and other witnesses ran to the river, but they only stood there helpless because they were not able to rescue the two men without special equipment. The water was very cold, the current was heavy and the plane was over 100 feet from the shore.
The emergency crews were delayed for almost ten minutes by a Union Pacific freight train. Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaefer confessed that such a delay is frustrating when every second matters. You feel completely helpless.
Racheal Hale, a person who lives nearby, explained how one of the men was brought to the surface and put on a raft. As he was taken to the shore the firefighters began chest compression. By the time the man on the raft was brought to the site the other man was pulled from the plane.
Image Source: KXLY