As an outpouring of mourning continues for nine members of an Idaho Falls family killed in a Saturday plane crash, federal investigators are trying to figure out what caused the accident.
Three generations of the Hansen family ran a petroleum distribution company in eastern Idaho. The prominent business family was flying back from its annual pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota, when shortly after takeoff, their small plane went down. The 11 passengers and the pilot were part of the Hansen extended family.
Brothers Jim and Kirk Hansen, founders of the nutritional supplement company, Kyäni, their father and six other relatives died. Three survivors were taken to a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The single engine turboprop plane took off under a winter storm warning. The National Weather Service said visibility at the airport in the southeastern region of the state was half a mile.
“There was blowing snow with reduced visibility,” Peter Knudson with the National Transportation Safety Board said. “That is one of the areas we’ll be looking at, but we really start with everything on the table.”
The federal investigation will look into dozens of potential causes, including maintenance records, fuel and engine conditions and the pilot’s history.
“What we’re focused on now is the documentation of the accident site and the wreckage,” Knudson explained.
Knudson and his team will release a preliminary report in two weeks. The full investigation will take a year or two to complete.
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