HUGGINS, Mo. (AP) — A Utah State Board of Education member, his wife and two of their children died Friday morning and another child was hurt when their small plane crashed while taking off from a relative’s grass airstrip in southwest Missouri, authorities said.
Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Kinder said witnesses reported that the Beechcraft A-36 got about 100 feet off the ground before stalling in a rural area near the town of Huggins. C. Mark Openshaw, 43, a member of the Utah education board since 2008, and his family were returning to their Provo, Utah, home after visiting relatives.
Kinder identified the other victims as Openshaw’s wife, Amy, 43; their 15-year-old son, Tanner; and 12-year-old daughter, Ellie. The couple’s 5-year-old son was taken to a Springfield-area hospital in serious condition.
Openshaw, who won a second four-year term in 2012, served as the chairman of the Law and Licensing Committee. Utah State Board of Education Chariman David Crandall praised Openshaw in a written statement, calling him “deeply passionate about Utah’s public schools” and describing his death as “a significant loss to our community.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will appoint a replacement to serve out the remaining 18 months of Openshaw’s term, with the consent of the Utah Senate.
Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board officials said the agencies are investigating the crash.