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Authorities identify couple killed in Utah County helicopter crash

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - May 19th, 2019 @ 6:49pm | Posted - May 19th, 2019 @ 1:10pm


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ALPINE — After she and her husband lifted off in their helicopter Friday morning, Megan Penna posted a photo to Facebook of the happy couple smiling as they soared through the clouds above Utah's scenic mountainscape.

Then, tragedy struck.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon on Sunday identified Megan Michele Penna, 32, and her husband, Benno Anthony Penna, also 32, as the victims of the crashed helicopter found Friday night in an area north of Alpine in Utah County.

Posted by Megan Hawk Penna on Friday, May 17, 2019

Cannon said the couple lived in Ballard, a small town in Uintah County. Their Facebook profiles show Megan Penna was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while her husband was a graduate of Union High School in nearby Roosevelt.

"They leave behind two children, a 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl," Cannon said.

The Penna family released a statement on Sunday evening that said they are "heartbroken at the loss" of Benno and Megan:

"Benno was a devoted husband and father who loved helping friends and family. Megan was a devoted wife, mother and business partner with Benno. Megan loved working with her husband and they both adored their kids.

The family is so grateful for the outpouring of community love and support during this very difficult time. The family is asking for privacy at this time. Please hold your calls, messages and visits until we have enough time to grieve the loss of Benno and Megan."

The statement was sent on behalf of the Penna, Zubiate and Hawk family.

The helicopter was reported overdue by family members Friday afternoon after taking off from Vernal Regional Airport en route to South Valley Regional Airport in the Salt Lake Valley just before 2 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued an entry-level alert notification for local authorities and search crews.

The Pennas were the only known occupants of the four-seat Robinson R-44 helicopter, authorities said.

A cause for the crash was still under investigation Sunday.

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