Friday, September 13, 2019

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, N6300Z: Fatal accident occurred September 08, 2019 in La Grande, Union County, Oregon

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Persons:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: La Grande, OR
Accident Number: WPR19FA256
Date & Time: 09/08/2019, 1000 PDT
Registration: N6300Z
Aircraft: Piper PA32
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 8, 2019, about 1000 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA32-300 airplane, N6300Z impacted mountainous terrain about 17 miles southwest of La Grande, Oregon. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to the pilot who was operating it as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Marginal weather conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Richland Airport (RLD) at 0900 and was destined for Ontario Airport (ONO).

According to three witnesses, they had cancelled the days hunting due to the weather, which they described as rain with heavy fog. While at their campsite, they heard an airplane fly passed, but could not see it. After the airplane flew passed, they heard a pop, and then silence. The hunter's campsite was located less than a half mile northeast from the accident site.

The airplane came to rest on a steep slope within deeply wooded terrain at an elevation of 5,901 ft mean sea level (msl). The vegetation surrounding the accident site was comprised of pine and deciduous trees ranging in height from saplings to 80 ft tall. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of about 225°, facing downhill on a 30o degree slope. A freshly cut swath through the trees was located directly uphill from the airplane and extended back about 200 ft on a bearing of 047°. Numerous components consisting of fragmented portions of the left and right wings, engine cylinders, fragments of the fuselage, and main landing gear components were found strewn along the ground scar. Two trees about 10 ft apart, at the top of the debris field were observed to have impact damage about 50 ft above the ground.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N6300Z
Model/Series: PA32 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Lowest Ceiling: Unknown
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Richland, WA (RLD)
Destination: Ontario, OR (ONO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 45.146389, -118.293333 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

David Emery Koeppen
September 13th, 1936 – September 8th, 2019

David Emery Koeppen
September 13th, 1936 – September 8th, 2019

David Emery Koeppen, 82, passed away on September 8, 2019 doing what he loved in Union County Oregon. David was born September 13, 1936 in Larned, Kansas to Fred and Delice Koeppen. He graduated from Columbia High School in Richland, Washington in 1954. After graduation he joined the U.S. Navy, where he received training in the interior communications electrical school. He served on the USS Brinkley Bass, USS Entemedor, USS Sam Houston, and USS Ethan Allen a nuclear-powered submarine. Part of his military experiences included Operation Frigate Bird, which on May 6, 1962 the USS Ethan Allen conducted the only operations test and detonation of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Nuclear Missile. The sub made a quick trip to the Pacific to launch a Polaris missile toward the Christmas Islands in Eastern Micronesia. Later that same year during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his submarine endured an extended stay and the crew lived off short rations knowing that if they had to fire a missile there may be nothing left to come home to. He served as one of the Navy’s youngest Chief Petty officers at the time. He met and married Audrey Lynne Brush on January 15, 1958. He retired from the Navy after 20 years at the age of 37 and moved to Idaho to operate an orchard in Fruitland. In the latter 70’s, hard economic times required change and David met the challenge by tending bar at Club 7 in the evenings, driving school bus during the day, and entered the electrical apprenticeship program for Drinkard Electric in Payette. In 1980, he partnered up with Gene Bishop, they put $100 in the bank and using Dave’s blue Dodge pickup, Fruitland Electric was born. The virtues of hard work and compassion that were instilled in him came from being raised in a large family and lots of farm work which included milking 44 cows and using plow horses to raise hay and grain. He held many credentials and was a lifelong learner. As no stranger to hard times he would not overlook the opportunity to help someone in need. At 82 years old he continued to show up at his office and help run the business of Fruitland Electric. He had a heart for helping those in need, looking past the outer shell and seeing the good inside everyone. His passion for flying came from a pilot’s kindness in giving him a free airplane ride and he paid if forward by giving numerous students free rides in his aircraft. He was licensed as a multiple engine commercial pilot, and a flight instructor. He was extensively involved in the Payette airport, and was the “go to guy” for getting projects at the airport done. He most recently served as a commissioner for the Payette airport. Within the electrical field he was a licensed general supervisor, master electrician, and administrator of the apprenticeship board. He held membership in multiple organizations: EAA, USS Ethan Allen Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, USS Submarine Veterans INC, Coastal Lodge in Stonington Connecticut, B.P.O.E., Idaho Chapter IAEI.

David was preceded in death by Audrey his wife of 53 years; his parents Fred and Delice Koeppen; his sister Loretta and her two sons Jim and John Jones; and brother-in-law Larry Lemmon.

David is survived by his daughter Lisa (Rob) Sanders of Nyssa, Oregon; grandchildren Danielle Sanders, Jessica Sanders, Rebecca Sanders, Michael Sanders, Rachael Sanders; and great granddaughter Audrey Sanders; his brothers Ralph (Elizabeth) Koeppen of California and Lyle (Mary Jo) Koeppen of Weiser; sisters Terry Lemmon of Utah, and Cherie (Bernard) Merjuski of Nebraska; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Goodbye “Big Daddy” we are all going to miss you!

A memorial service in David’s honor will be held at Calvary Chapel in Ontario, Oregon on September 21, 2019 at 11 am with a graveside service following at Riverside Cemetery in Payette, Idaho. Services are under the direction of Shaffer-Jensen Memory Chapel, Payette. Condolences may be made to David’s family at The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations can be made to Gideon’s International, P.O. Box 507, Ontario, Oregon 97914.

Audrey Lynn (Brush) Koeppen, Wife (deceased)
Emery Fred Koeppen, Father (deceased)
Delice Irene (Richard) Koeppen, Mother (deceased)
Loretta (Koeppen) Jones, Sister (deceased)
Jim Jones, Nephew (deceased)
John Jones, Nephew (deceased)
Larry Lemmon, Brother in law (deceased)
Lisa (Koeppen) Sanders, Daughter
Rob Sanders, Son in law
Danielle Sanders, Granddaughter
Jessica Sanders, Granddaughter
Rebecca Sanders, Granddaughter
Michael Sanders, Grandson
Rachael Sanders, Granddaughter
Audrey Sanders, Great Granddaughter
Ralph Koeppen, Brother
Elizabeth Koeppen, Sister in law
Lyle Koeppen, Brother
Mary Jo Koeppen, Sister in law
Terry Lemmon, Sister
Cherie (Merjuski, Sister
Bernard Merjuski, Brother in law
Numerous nieces and nephews

Mike Norwood, Active Bearer
John Howard, Active Bearer
Travis Patton, Active Bearer
Darrell Carr, Active Bearer
Steve Castenada, Active Bearer
Lyle Koeppen, Active Bearer
Ralph Koeppen, Active Bearer

Gideons International 
P.O. Box 507, Ontario, Oregon 97914

The name of the pilot who died in a Sunday plane crash southwest of La Grande has been released by the Union County Sheriff's Office.

The victim was David Emery Koeppen, 82, of Fruitland, Idaho, according to Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen in a news release The Observer received late this morning. Koeppen was flying from Kennewick, Washington, to Ontario on Sunday when he "apparently got off course'' Capt. Craig Ward of the Union County Sheriff's Office told the Observer on Thursday, and his plane crashed at Elk Willow Springs southwest of La Grande.

The UCSO's Search and Rescue unit was notified at 11:23 p.m. Tuesday that Koeppen's plane was overdue and may have crashed. A search was launched at that time, one coordinated with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

Civil Air Patrol radar data was compiled and a forensic examination of its radar track was conducted. The radar track appeared to terminate at or near Elk Willow Springs outside La Grande. Life Flight flew into the early morning hours of Wednesday and attempted to locate the crash site using night vision equipment, according to the UCSO news release.

A ground search was started on Wednesday at 8 a.m. by the Union County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue unit. Two and a half hours later the The Oregon Air National Guard, using a Chinook helicopter initiated a search in the general area.

At 2 p.m. the Civil Air Patrol arrived to search the air using a fixed wing aircraft. At 2:19 p.m. the Civil Air Patrol crew spotted plane wreckage. Moments later the Chinook helicopter was overhead and is crew verified the plane wreckage.

The Chinook helicopter hovered and maintained its position over the wreckage and GPS coordinates to ground search units. At 2:26 p.m., ground search units arrived at the wreckage site.

The US Forest Service was then contacted and five people from it then created an access route to the wreckage site.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the crash.

The type of plane Koeppen was flying has not been released but according to a preliminary Federal Aviation Administration report the pilot Koeppen had a 1968 PA-32-300 fixed wing single-engine Piper aircraft registered in his name.

Radar data indicates that Koeppen's plane crashed after making a rapid descent from an altitude of 6,600 feet.

Original article ➤

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