Monday, January 27, 2020

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N3672K: Fatal accident occurred January 24, 2020 in Payson, Gila County, Arizona

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona
Piper Aircraft; Phoenix, Arizona 
Lycoming Engines; Tempe, Arizona 

Location: Payson, AZ
Accident Number: WPR20FA079
Date & Time: January 24, 2020, 09:11 Local
Registration: N3672K
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On January 24, 2020, about 0911 mountain standard time, a Piper PA28-140, airplane, N3672K, impacted mountainous terrain about 10 miles southwest of Payson Airport (PAN), Payson, Arizona. The private pilot and one passenger were seriously injured, another passenger was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed, and a postaccident fire ensued. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal crosscountry flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from PAN, at about 0900.

The pilot stated in an interview that after a flight earlier that morning from Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona, he landed in PAN, refueled, and departed for the return flight back to FFZ. During the return flight, the pilot decided to fly over the mountains southwest of their position. He stated that he flew about 1,000 ft above ground level (agl) over the mountains, while the passengers were spotting
wildlife on the terrain below. The pilot stated the airplane was running well and doesn't remember anything else until waking up in a small creek at the accident site.

Preliminary flight track data showed the airplane depart PAN and fly to the Mazatzal Mountain Range. While maintaining an altitude of about 1,000 ft agl above the mountainous terrain, the airplane made a 280° turning maneuver, then descended over a canyon. About a half mile from the accident site, the flight track turned left and the turn radius increased before the track data ceased. The last recorded flight track data point was located about 500 ft from the accident site and about 200 ft agl.

Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted steep brush covered terrain. The wreckage including all major structural airplane components, and primary flight controls were contained within the debris field that was about 145 ft long and oriented on a magnetic heading of about 35°. The propeller was found about halfway through the debris field and the blades revealed leading edge gouging and loss of blade material at the tips. The main wreckage was found on top of rocks located along the stream. The cabin and forward fuselage were mostly consumed by postimpact fire. The left wing and empennage were found partially attached to the main wreckage and had postimpact fire damage. 

The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper Registration: N3672K
Model/Series: PA28 140 Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPAN,5157 ft msl
Observation Time: 16:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C /-4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Payson, AZ (PAN)
Destination: Mesa, AZ (FFZ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.158889,-111.493888 (est)
Blaine Mathews (age 59) died at the scene.

Spencer Berns (age 29) survived the accident.

Office of Sheriff of Gila County
Updated Press Release
January 24, 2020

"Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd would like to release the following updated information on a plane crash located southwest of Payson, Arizona in the Mazatzal Mountains.

On January 24, 2020 at approximately 3:12 p.m. the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from an individual reporting their plane had crashed in the Mazatzal Mountains. Three individuals were reported on board at the time of crash. Deputies responded as well as the Arizona Department of Public Safety Helicopter Ranger.

Once the aircraft was located, three individuals were found, two were recovered and airlifted to hospitals in the valley and one was pronounced deceased. The two survivors have been identified as Colten Egbert, age 21, of Mesa and Spencer Berns, age 29, of Mesa. The deceased individual has been identified as Blaine Mathews, age 59, of Mesa.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been contacted and will be conducting an investigation. This is an ongoing investigation and more information may be released as it becomes available.

Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd would like to thank the Department of Public Safety, Native Air, PHI and Life Line Ambulance for their coordinating response.

Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd would like to extend condolences to the families affected by this tragic loss."

Gila County Sheriff's Office

NEAR PAYSON, Arizona - Officials with the Gila County Sheriff's Office say a person is dead, and two people were taken to Valley hospitals following a small plane crash that happened Friday afternoon.

According to a statement released on the department's Facebook page, deputies received a 911 call at around 3:12 p.m. from a person reporting that a plane had crashed in the Mazatzal Mountains area. Deputies, with help from the Helicopter Ranger with DPS, searched for the crash site.

Three people were on board at the time of the crash, and officials with GCSO identified the man who died as 59-year-old Blaine Mathews of Mesa. The survivors were identified as 29-year-old Spencer Berns and 21-year-old Colten Egbert, both of Mesa.

Mathews leaves behind his wife, children and grandchildren. He is remembered as a big family man who would help others in need.

FOX 10 learned from Federal Aviation Administration officials that the plane involved in the crash is a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee. There will be an investigation by Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Crash survivor, Spencer Berns' wife says he has broken bones and an injured spine but is healing up in the hospital.

Shelly Berns says she got a text from Spencer just before 9 a.m. Friday as the group fueled the plane up in Payson. Later that night, she saw video of the accident site on the news.

She says Colten, the pilot, called 911 and Spencer used his Garmin inReach watch to help give dispatch their coordinates via GPS. That's when Gila County Sheriff's deputies and the DPS helicopter ranger helped find the men - airlifting the two to hospitals.

"I'm just kind of numb right now. I don't think it's really hit me yet. My emotions when I got the call that his plane went down, I was a wreck. I'm ready for him to be home out of the hospital and start recovering so we can move past this," she said.

Spencer and Mathews enjoyed spending time together, they'd even go hunting. "There's nothing that you'd ask him that he would ever say no to. He would bend over backward to help anybody," Berns said of Mathews.

Story and video ➤

NEAR PAYSON, Arizona (3TV/CBS 5) - One man is dead and two others are seriously hurt after a plane went down near Payson on Friday.

Federal investigators say around 3 p.m., a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee went down "under unknown circumstances" in the Mazatzal Mountains, 8 to 10 miles southwest of Payson.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office said 59-year-old Blaine Mathews died at the scene. Colten Egbert, 21, and Spencer Burns, 29, were flown from the wreckage to hospitals in the Phoenix-area. All three men are from Mesa.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Story and video ➤

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