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There's a new development tonight involving the small plane that made an emergency landing on Interstate-80 in Tooele County last week. Eyewitness News has learned the incident is now under investigation by prosecutors in Tooele County and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The plane that made the emergency landing is at the Spanish Fork airport. The problem is how it got there; it wasn't towed on the ground like Utah Highway Patrol troopers ordered, it was flown there. The plane's owner waited until everyone had left the scene just before midnight and then used I-80 as a runway to take off.
It was after dark last Wednesday night when the single engine plane with two people on board was running out of fuel. The pilot, Devin Goodwin, knew he was in trouble.
He said, "I tried starting up the emergency procedures and everything else, but it wasn't budging. And so I told him [the passenger] to brace himself and we're gonna go down."
Twenty-one-year-old Devin Goodwin found the best available landing strip for where he was and landed on I-80 in Tooele County. "I lined up the headlights and taillights of the cars in front of us, and that's how I figured out how low we were. It's how I figured out where the center of the road is, because we had no lights to land."
Goodwin, who had rented the plane for the evening, safely landed it on the freeway and avoided causing a traffic accident. UHP troopers moved the plane into a field until the owner could get it towed, on the ground, back to the airport.
Eyewitness News has learned the plane's owner went to the scene, filled the fuel tank up and just before midnight, took off, using I-80 as the runway. FAA officials in Seattle confirmed an investigation of the Feb. 4 incident is underway but wouldn't release details.
Meanwhile, the Utah Highway Patrol is asking Tooele County prosecutors to pursue charges of reckless endangerment against the owner, who is also a licensed pilot. That's because he had already been warned he was not authorized to use the freeway to take flight and then he did it anyway, while the freeway was open. It was a dangerous and hazardous takeoff in the dark with the potential to put the public at risk.
Authorities would not release the owner's name to us, but through a search of FAA records, we determined he is a 48-year-old man from Spanish Fork.
Tooele County prosecutors were not available to comment on the case today. FAA officials in Seattle told us it may be a couple of months until the federal investigation is completed.