SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Endo, one of three Utah men who perished the crash of small plane outside Paris, Texas Saturday morning, was remembered Sunday as a loving family man and friend.
Endo's passions were flying and outdoor recreation, according to a statement issued Sunday by Celtic Bank, where he was senior vice president of regional sales, SBA development.
"He had a love for flying ever since he was a little boy and had his pilot license for over 25 years. He was a member of the Paragliding Association for many years and loved to hike and ski up at Snowbird. He recently hiked the Inca trails to Machu Picchu in Peru. Mike was an avid golfer and had served in Civil Air Patrol for over 10 years. He was a loving husband, father, son, brother and friend who was loved by who knew him."
A Piper PA-46 carrying Endo, 51, Michael Dale Bradley, 44, both of Salt Lake, and pilot Rob Thompson, 49, of Saratoga Springs, crashed about 8 a.m. Saturday, shortly after take-off from a nearby airport.
The Texas Public Safety Department said it was reportedly foggy and the plane attempted to turn back toward the airport before descending rapidly and crashing.
One airport employee said the men were worried about the weather.
"(They) asked me to fill them up, so I went out there and filled them up and they came back this morning," said Hunter Sanders. "And I wrote them a ticket and they were worried about the weather."
Witnesses in a CNN report said that the plane burst into flames upon impact. A firefight who responded to the crash said it was especially difficult.
"I tried to put out as much fire as I could, said firefighter Eddie Simmons. "The fuel tanks done exploded and all the fuel was on fire, and all the inside of the plane was on fire."
A federal investigator remained at the crash site Sunday, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said in a statement.
"The investigator has been reviewing and conducting the physical inspection of the aircraft. The investigator will also request radar data, check for any air traffic control communications, review weather reports and check for any witness accounts," the statement said.
The NTSB will continue to collect factual information in for the next few days, he said, noting the cause of the crash may not be known for months. "It usually takes 12 to 18 months before we have a final report that states a probable cause," the statement said.
More information will be released as it becomes available, Holloway said.
Bradley, principal broker of MBA Realty, was working with Celtic on the sale of property in Texas, according to the press release. Thompson was a professional pilot contracted by the bank to fly the company's plane.
"This is a challenging and difficult time for the entire Celtic Bank family," bank chief executive officer Reese Howell Jr. said in a statement.
The bank issued a statement saying it would not release any additional information about the crash on Sunday. "We would ask that you please respect their (family members') privacy in these tragic and very difficult times," said spokesman James Roberts wrote.
Contributing: Devon Dolan