Betsy Swanback

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July 1, 2013
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Baby dies in Idaho airplane crash; Roseburg pilots injured

Two Roseburg men were injured in a Friday morning plane crash in Idaho that claimed the life of a 2-year-old passenger in another aircraft.

Dan Sprague and Chris Jordan were participating in a fly-in in western Idaho with about 100 other aircraft when the accident occurred around 11 a.m.

Sprague told The News-Review today that Jordan was piloting a Piper Tri-Pacer when the collision occurred at Johnson Creek Airport, a back-country airstrip near Yellow Pine.

He said another aircraft was approaching the landing strip at the same time they were when the two planes collided.

“We never saw the other aircraft, and the other aircraft apparently never saw us,” said Sprague, who, along with Jordan, was treated at a hospital and released.

The planes collided about 60 feet in the air when the other plane hit the Roseburg men’s plane from above.

Roseburg Regional Airport Director Mike Danielle, who was not in Idaho but talked with Sprague after the accident, said Jordan was flying a high-wing airplane, so he could not have seen an airplane above him. The other plane was a low-wing plane, so the pilot could not see an aircraft below him, he said.

“It’s a classic accident,” Danielle said.

Tom Weiss of Roseburg was flying behind Jordan’s plane and witnessed the collision.

Danielle said Weiss pulled Dan Sprague out of the airplane and Jordan got himself out. Sprague suffered a broken lower leg and Jordan had cuts and a dislocated jaw.

“They’ve got some rehab to look forward to, but all in all are extremely fortunate people,” he said.

Weiss flew both men to a hospital in his airplane. Both men are now back in Roseburg.

The Valley County Sheriff’s Office said a 2-year-old boy and his father were taken by air ambulance to a Boise hospital, where the father was in serious condition, The Associated Press reported. The family is from Utah, and the victims’ names were not released.

Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Mel Coulter said there is not a lot of room for error at the landing strip.

“It requires some pretty good skills to get in there,” he said. “The airstrip lies in between several peaks of Sawtooth mountains. It’s a very popular place to fly into.”

He said the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation into the crash.

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at

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The News-Review Updated Jul 1, 2013 04:08PM Published Jul 2, 2013 09:42AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.