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HOLDEN PLANE CRASH KILLS 2 PREDATOR-CONTROL OFFICERS

SHARE HOLDEN PLANE CRASH KILLS 2 PREDATOR-CONTROL OFFICERS

Two Utahns were killed Wednesday when their plane crashed while pursuing a coyote near Holden.

Jeff Yates, 41, Nephi, and Darwin Mabbutt, 69, Delta, were flying on a routine predator-control assignment for the state's animal-damage-control program when the crash occurred.Witnesses said the single-engine Piper Super Cub dove nose first into farmland a few miles north of Holden at 7:55 a.m., according to the Millard County Sheriff's Department.

The two men apparently were killed instantly. The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Yates and Mabbutt were flying over a level stretch of land Thursday in pursuit of a coyote that apparently killed a calf.

Yates - who was piloting the plane - was a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee with 550 hours flying time in the animal-control program.

Mabbutt, a Utah Department of Agriculture contract worker, had 30 years of flying experience in the animal-control program with more than 13,000 hours of flying time. He recently won a USDA flight safety award.

Mabbutt had apparently been training Yates after recently retiring from the program.

The crash stunned members of Yates' neighborhood.

"We became friends in 1975 and have been friends since then," said Al Robb, a member of Yates' LDS ward. "He never had anything bad to say about anything."

Mabbutt spent much of his professional career in the air.

The crash marks the first fatal accident involving Utah animal-control workers in more than 30 years.