Plane crash claims the lives of four
GUTHRIE CENTER — Plymouth County is mourning the loss of four residents after a single engine aircraft crashed outside Guthrie Center, Friday, Nov. 9.
Aircraft tail number 91770, a 1979 Piper Dakota, was traveling from Le Mars toward Osceola when Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office received a call at 5:08 p.m. from Des Moines Air Traffic Control, requesting an emergency landing at the Guthrie Center Airport.
“Des Moines Traffic Control advised the pilot had suffered a heart attack and a student pilot would be attempting an emergency landing,” Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright said in the press release.
The pilot, Edward Ralph Anderson, 49, of Le Mars, had flown for roughly 20 years, safely delivering people to their destination.
“He loved flying,” Le Mars Airport Manager Tom Mullally said of his longtime friend and colleague. “It hits (the aviation community) the hardest, but we have a strong community bond and we support each other in times like this and our hearts go out to the family.”
Traveling with Anderson was Patrick Kellen, 36, Samantha Clark, 15, both of Le Mars, and Tyler Douvia, 28, of Merrill.
“We’re all related,” explained Patrick’s father Del Kellen. “Tyler was Pat’s first cousin, Sam was Pat’s daughter. Three from the same family.”
“I know Tyler, Pat and Sammy will never be forgotten and always remembered and missed,” added Deanna Douvia, Tyler’s mother, in a post on Facebook. “They were all too young and taken before their time.”
The Douvia and Kellen families also mourn Anderson’s loss.
“I also had the pleasure to know Ed Anderson and what a wonderful man he was,” Deanna said. “My heart goes out to his family also but know his heart of gold will never be forgotten.”
Mullally shared how Anderson inspired him to go after his instrument license, which would allow him to fly up in the clouds and through bad weather.
“Recently, he got his instrument license and him doing so inspired me to get my instrument license,” Mullally said. “He was my safety pilot. We were both going to get our instrument licenses, our commercials, then go on to take some charter flights.”
According to authorities, Guthrie Fire and Rescue and Panora Rescue were dispatched to Guthrie Center Airport, but the aircraft never arrived, dropping off radar approximately four miles southwest of the airport.
“The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office launched an extensive search and rescue mission to locate the aircraft,” Arganbright stated. “The sheriff’s office utilized the assistance of the Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Adair County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Panora Police Department, Stuart Police Department, Guthrie County Emergency Management, Guthrie Center Fire and Rescue, Panora Fire and Rescue, and numerous other law enforcement, fire, and rescue agencies.”
After being notified of the distress call, family members raced to aid in the search for the missing plane. Hundreds of volunteers also assisted in the search effort, from adding boots on the ground to businesses donating food and other supplies.
“We had a couple hundred volunteers out there looking until 3:30 in the morning,” Del said. “First thing in the morning, another couple hundred showed up again and we found them right away.”
With the search effort broadcasted on local media, area families opened their doors to volunteers doing the long hours of the search in the bitter cold.
“They helped us a lot,” shared Lori Kellen, Patrick’s mother, of an interaction she had with a family in Guthrie County during the search. “They had no clue who we were, but they opened their home to us, they knew why we were there.”
During the search, Guthrie County law enforcement kept in constant contact with the family.
“I’d like to thank the Guthrie Center police,” said Deanna. “They were very good to us, very informative. They told us what they could while they were out there searching.”
At approximately 6:31 a.m., Saturday, someone reported the crashed aircraft, authorities said.
“A Guthrie County citizen reported a small plane crash in a cow pasture southwest of the intersection of 265th and Maple Avenue,” the sheriff’s office release stated. “The plane was identified as tail #91770. The plane impacted very hard and all occupants were deceased at the scene.”
While family and friends gathered at the Kellen Ponderosa, outside of Le Mars on County Road K-49, to offer moral support over the weekend, the Le Mars community rallied to show support, via phone calls and social media posts.
“Our families were out here for us when we got home, had stuff ready for everything,” Del explained.
“I’ve received a lot of phone calls of support and condolences,” Deanna added.
Le Mars Community High School also opened their doors Saturday morning until 3 p.m., offering counseling services to students impacted by the loss of their classmate.
Guthrie County authorities revealed the deceased were transported to the Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office while the crash site was secured pending an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Funeral services for the deceased are being organized through Mauer-Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars. Service times for the four victims can be found on page 5 of today’s Daily Sentinel.