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Plane crashes in Utah County, but pilot suffers only minor injuries

ELBERTA, Utah County — A single engine plane crashed Saturday, but the pilot was able to escape with only minor injuries.

Witnesses in the Elberta area called the Utah County Sheriff's Office just before 10:30 a.m. after they saw the crash and clouds of smoke.

Rick Edward Strong, 45, of Payson, had been traveling about 75 mph performing a re-seeding operation for a company when he received a "stall warning and was unable to correct the problem," said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon. Strong, a pilot of 20 years with around 1,500 hours of fight time, lost control only a couple hundred feet into the air and crashed in "relatively rugged terrain," he said.

In what Cannon described as a "horrific crash," the plane hit the ground and spun around backwards to face the opposite direction of its flight.

Strong had little difficulty getting out of the plane and was treated on site by medical personnel, the sergeant said.

"All it would have taken is say a buckle jammed or a lock on the canopy jammed for 30 seconds or a minute and we might be having to talk about a very different outcome," Cannon said. "With what that plane did … to walk away is nothing short of a miracle."

Although Strong made it out of the crash unscathed, his plane did not. The plane took a beating from the impact but was destroyed by the flames, Cannon said.