A devastating plane crash in Utah claimed the lives of North Dakota State Senator Doug Larsen, his wife Amy, and their two young children on Sunday evening. The family was en route to North Dakota from Scottsdale, Arizona, where they had been visiting relatives. The small single-engine Piper plane they were traveling in crashed shortly after takeoff from Canyonlands Airfield, located approximately 15 miles north of Moab, Utah.
The heartbreaking news of Senator Larsen’s passing was confirmed by Republican Senate Majority Leader David Hogue in an email sent to fellow senators and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. In his message, Hogue expressed condolences and called for prayers for the grieving family members.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement on Facebook reporting that all four individuals aboard the aircraft lost their lives in the tragic accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently conducting an investigation into the crash, and an NTSB investigator is expected to arrive at the scene to gather crucial information, including air traffic communications, radar data, weather reports, and witness accounts. Additionally, maintenance records of the plane and the pilot’s medical and flight history will be examined.
As of now, it remains unclear who was piloting the aircraft at the time of the crash. Online Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records simply state that the “Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances after takeoff, Moab, UT.”
In a poignant December 2020 Facebook post, Senator Larsen proudly shared his wife’s achievement of flying “her first flight as a pilot,” along with a picture of a small orange plane. Larsen, a Republican, was first elected to the North Dakota Senate in 2020, representing Mandan, a city adjacent to Bismarck. He also held the position of lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard and was a successful business owner alongside his wife, Amy.
The North Dakota Republican Party will be tasked with appointing a successor to fulfill the remainder of Senator Larsen’s term, which extends until November 2024. His Senate seat was due to be on the ballot next year. It’s worth noting that Republicans currently maintain control of North Dakota’s Legislature with supermajorities in both the House and Senate.
Moab, Utah, a popular tourism-centered community of approximately 5,300 residents situated near the iconic Arches and Canyonlands national parks, is grappling with the tragic loss of the Larsen family, sending shockwaves of grief through both the local and political communities.