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Plane Crash Victims Remembered for Volunteer Work

Plane Crash Victims Remembered for Volunteer Work

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Jill Atwood reporting Their passion was birds of prey. Tonight co-workers and friends remember two people for their tireless efforts in the name of bird preservation.

James Messinger and Dawn Sebesta were volunteers with the Bureau of Land Management. Both were killed yesterday in a plane crash in the mountains west of Tooele.

Sebesta had thousands of manhours and miles under her belt spearheading a raptor nesting survey for the BLM. Now, we hear from those who had the opportunity to work with both.

BLM statistics show Sebesta monitored almost 1,400 nests in the last year. She logged over 60,000 miles traveled. We also hear she was just about to be honored in the coming weeks with a prestigious award for her volunteerism and research.

Dawn Sebesta at her best-- a full-time volunteer teaching others how to inspect a bird for it's overall health. Tyler Gerritsen shot a video the last time he was out with the pair.

Tyler Gerritsen/Raptor Nesting Survey: "She was showing us how to band them, measure them, get their weight, all kinds of things. Basically a survey, so we can determine how they're doing."

Over the years, Sebesta partnered with people like Jim Messinger to monitor birds of prey in Utah, observing their flight patterns and nests.

Their numbers are dropping, and folks like Sebesta have taken it upon themselves to find out why.

Glenn Carpenter/Bureau of Land Management: "With the disturbances that are occuring, man caused or natural lightning strikes, etc., there has been quite an impact to raptors. We need to have a better handle on that so that as we do various activities, we can minimize that impact."

And that's exactly the type of work they were doing when the plane they were flying in went down. The pair died on impact.

Glenn CarpenterBureau of Land Management: "She put reports together. She put teams together, gave people their marching orders. 'You go here. You go there. This is what you look for. This is how you do it.' And she, with our people, (they) were very effective."

"Personally, she kept that passion alive for me too. I guess it's a cohesion birders have together, working in the field and monitoring them."

Dawn will forever be remembered as the heart and soul of the BLM's volunteer program. Her research is priceless and will be studied for years to come, and her passion serves as an inspiration.

Sebesta also volunteered at the Tracy Aviary and at the Hogle Zoo.

As for the pilot of the plane and his wife, they both remain in critical condition. Sunday the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were on scene investigating. But it may take some time to determine exactly what went wrong, as it does in many plane crash investigations.

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