Saturday, August 08, 2020

North American Navion, N225HJ: Fatal accident occurred August 02, 2020 near Cedar City Regional Airport (KCDC), Iron County, Utah

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 did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

Location: Cedar City, UT
Accident Number: WPR20LA249
Date & Time: 08/02/2020, 0839 MDT
Registration: N225HJ
Aircraft: North American NAVION
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On August 2, 2020, about 0839 mountain daylight time, a North American Navion airplane, N225HJ, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Cedar City, Utah. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

Preliminary radar data showed the airplane departed Strawberry Valley Estates Airport (UT24), Alton, Utah, about 0815. After departure, the airplane flew southwest bound before turning north where it continued to track for the remaining portion of the flight captured by surveillance data. The direction was consistent with a heading towards Cedar City, Utah, as well as near the reported accident site.

Several witnesses heard the pilot make a distress call. He said that they were out of gas and were trying to land in a field. Two other witnesses observed the airplane descending prior to impact with terrain. Shortly thereafter, a nearby communications tower collapsed. Local law enforcement and the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site. A survey of the site revealed that all major components of the airplane necessary for flight were located at the accident site. A support cable from the tower was observed wrapped around the front of the airplane. There was no post impact fire.

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

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: North American
Registration: N225HJ
Model/Series: NAVION No Series
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:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCDC, 5618 ft msl
Observation Time: 0853 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Alton, UT (UT24)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude: 37.603333, -113.188889 (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

Richard Balsam Essex
(1956 - 2020) 

Richard (Rick) Essex was born on December 6th, 1956 and passed away on August 2nd, 2020 from injuries sustained in an small airplane accident. He was 63 years of age. Rick was born in Las Vegas where he lived his entire life. He graduated from Bishop Gorman High School and attended UNLV where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Rick married his loving wife Christine on November 18, 1979. Together they had 4 children, 7 grandchildren and one on the way. Rick owned and operated a 7-Eleven store in Las Vegas for 41 years. In addition, he has owned other businesses throughout years. When not working, Rick enjoyed fishing, race cars, motorcycle riding, boating, RVing, flying, and spending quality time with his wife, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews. He is survived by his wife, Christine, and children Richard Essex, Ashley (Craig) Denney, Adam (DaNika) Essex and Aaron (Kahala) Essex and beautiful grandchildren, Richard Essex III, Sadie Denney, Halo Moskwa, Ryder Essex, Kooper Essex, Riley Essex, Lucille Denney, and baby Joan Essex on the way he loved them all unconditionally. He is also survived by loving sisters and brothers-in-law, Bonnie and Lou Hillegass, Dan Roman Robin and Steve Starr, countless nephews, nieces, great nephews, and great nieces. He is preceded in death by his devoted parents, Marilyn and Martin Essex and his adored sister, Joan Essex Roman. If someone was in need of help, Rick was there for them. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and the community. His loving nature, kindness and great sense of humor will long be remembered. Visitation and viewing will be held at Palm Mortuary 7400 West Cheyenne Friday August 7th from 4pm to 8pm. Social Distancing will be required. There will be a graveside service at Palm Northwest, 6701 N Jones with limited room Saturday August 8th at 9am. If you wish you can donate to the family's favorite charity, Nevada Brain Injury. It is a nonprofit organization. Donations can be sent to 6110 Kings Brook Court, Las Vegas, Nevada 89149.

Iron County Sheriff's Office

On 08-02-20 at approximately 0845 hours, Cedar Communication was advised of an aircraft in distress 5 miles south of the Cedar City Regional Airport.

A few moments later, Cedar Communications was advised of an airplane that had crashed. It appears the aircraft struck a communications tower which is approximately 300 feet tall near 6500 W 4000 S, Cedar City.

Cedar City Fire Department, Gold Cross Ambulance, Utah Highway Patrol, and Iron County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Two adult males; Darwin Mao (52) and Richard Essex (63) both from Las Vegas, Nevada were located and pronounced dead at the scene. The FAA has concluded there on-scene investigation and the NTSB has the aircraft. The investigation into the crash will continue with the FAA and NTSB.

The aircraft is a North American Navion.

Our thoughts and prayer are with the families of the victims at this time.


  1. Such a misfortune to get caught by the tower/guy wires. Flightaware data shows descending flight for several minutes. Lots of space for off-field landing attempt if they could have stayed clear.

    Map view of the location looking from SW guy anchor:,-113.1891197,3a,75y,51.25h,106t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sGYyR1EJxMTWC9Z2eO-XBfQ!2e0!!7i13312!8i6656

  2. Crosswinds must have blown him into the guy.