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Two Dead in Wayne County Plane Crash

Two Dead in Wayne County Plane Crash

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The pilot and a passenger in a two-seat plane were killed Friday when the aircraft went down in the Parker Mountain area of Wayne County in south-central Utah, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said.

Those killed were the pilot, Joseph Harris, and his passenger, Glen Stevenson. Both were USDA employees.

The plane was conducting surveillance work over the area for a USDA wildlife services program, said spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said.

The plane is owned by Utah's Department of Agriculture and Food and used by the USDA in a predator eradication program that protects livestock from bears, cougars and coyotes, said Larry Lewis, a Utah department spokesman.

The pair were conducting a low-level flying operation to remove coyotes that were attacking lambs, Lewis said. Harris was trained to fly in mountains and had his last skill review in December.

It was the first fatal crash for the program since 1998, Lewis said.

Dispatchers received a 911 telephone call about the crash about 8:30 a.m. from a person on horseback who saw the plane go down, said Alicia Gleave, a dispatch supervisor at a multi-agency public safety center in Richfield.

The plane, which is believed to have taken off earlier in the day from Richfield, was in an area of the mountain known as Cedar Grove, she said. The area is about six miles southwest from State Route 24 and is accessible with off-road vehicles, Gleave said.

The site is considered a crime scene until an investigation is complete, she said. Wayne County sheriff's deputies were assisting in the recovery effort.

The cause of the crash is unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate.

The USDA will suspend any further aerial operations while the crash is investigated, Bannerman said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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