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New Mexico pilot, wife are released from hospital

Investigation into Draper crash continues

Low clouds hang over spot where small plane crashed in the mountainside near Draper's South Mountain.
Low clouds hang over spot where small plane crashed in the mountainside near Draper's South Mountain.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

The New Mexico couple who walked away from a plane crash near Draper's South Mountain Monday have been released from the hospital.

They were treated at Alta View Hospital and never actually admitted as patients, according to a hospital spokesman. Additional information about their conditions and injuries was not available because of federal medical privacy laws.

Monday, Unified Fire Authority Capt. Michael Jensen said 65-year-old Cordell Akin was taken to the hospital in fair condition with a cut on his head, and his wife, 44-year-old Rayna Akin, is in good condition with a cut hand.

The Akins were en route from Boise to Las Cruces, N.M., when their plane hit the cloud-covered mountainside near 15700 South and 200 East just after 1:30 p.m. Officials estimated the plane was flying 200 to 250 feet above the valley floor when it crashed.

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration was back at the crash site Tuesday collecting information from the flight recording data in an effort to determine what caused the crash.

The Akins were planning to stop in Spanish Fork for fuel.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was flying with visual flight rules, meaning the plane was supposed to stay outside clouds and stay below certain altitudes.

"You have to be able to see the ground and the terrain. You follow the terrain features. It's the pilot's job to be watching," he said.

It appears that Akin became disoriented in the thick clouds covering the mountain Monday afternoon and then spotted the ground almost too late.

"The blessing was they pulled up at the last minute," Kenitzer said.

The belly of the twin engine Cessna 310 pancaked onto the mountain. The plane then flipped onto its back on the steep hillside with its nose buried into the ground, preventing the aircraft from sliding the rest of the way down into the homes below.

"They were blessed they walked away from this," Kenitzer said.

The FAA's investigation could take several weeks, he said. Then it could be several months before the National Transportation Safety Administration issues its final report.