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3 of 6 injured in Utah tour plane crash remain hospitalized

GOULDING, San Juan County — Three people injured in a plane crash in rural southwest Utah Monday remained hospitalized Friday, including one in critical condition.

On Monday, a Cessna 207 carrying five passengers and a pilot crashed just short of the runway, north of the Monument Valley Airport, during a wind storm. The tour plane was from Grand Canyon Airlines, which chartered the flight from the Grand Canyon National Airport to Monument Valley.

Charles Bassett, the airline's vice president of operations, said Friday that three of the victims had been released from the hospital and returned to their tour group.

Two others — German tourists — were expected to be released from the Tuba City, Ariz., medical facility on Sunday and get on a plane to return to Germany that same day. One of the victims suffered a broken arm and the other broken ribs, Bassett said.

The pilot, Dan Fassler, was the most seriously injured in the accident. At last word he remained in critical condition in a Phoenix hospital.

The Federal Aviation Administration completed its investigation late Tuesday, Bassett said, and the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation is still ongoing. Investigators have allowed the wreckage to be removed from the crash scene.

"The cause is highly possible, and suspected to be, wind conditions that existed that day," Bassett said.

Because there are no weather stations in that area, he said it would likely be impossible to come up with data that measured the exact speed of the wind gusts in that area at the time of the crash.

The tour company has other planes and is still open for business.

— Pat Reavy