The Utah County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday that one of four people killed in a Saturday plane crash near Cedar City was a longtime deputy with the department.

Family members said Steven Eatchel was flying with his wife Lindsey Eatchel, brother Thomas Eatchel, and Tom’s girlfriend Danielle Deagostini to Cedar City to visit another brother.

According to the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, the four took off from the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport Saturday afternoon, touched down in Cedar City for a little over an hour, then took off again with plans for a sightseeing tour over Zion National Park.

Just a few minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed five miles outside Cedar City.

Pilot Steven Eatchel was with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years, working in courts and corrections at the jail, said Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

“When you first hear it, it’s like you almost just shake your head and say, ‘This can’t be real.’ And it takes a minute for it to settle in,” Cannon said. He said he had just talked to Steven Eatchel three days ago and described the deputy as always working with a smile.

Cannon said the community was well-served by Steven Eatchel, who was committed to his job and was well liked.

“He would work most recently at the Utah County Security Center, when I would see him just a few days ago, at the front desk where the public comes in and he greets them,” Cannon explained. “And if I’m going out there to meet media or something, he’s there, and I’ll chat with him for a couple of minutes.”

Those casual chats are now memories shared by deputies who worked with Steven Eatchel. Cannon said everybody is hurting and still having to go to work as they process the loss.

Steven and Lindsay Eatchel leave behind four young children, family posted.

“It’s a tragedy that’s going to stick with us, and the tragedy’s compounded by the fact that he’s got four kids that he’s left behind now, that they’ve left behind — he and his wife Lindsay,” Cannon said. “And It’s hard to imagine what it must be like for the rest of the family who are now caring for those children, and how do you explain this to them that mom and dad aren’t coming home again? And that’s a hard pill to swallow.”

In addition to the children losing their parents, the Eatchel family lost two sons/brothers, plus the loss experienced by Lindsay Eatchel and Danielle Deagostini’s families — all in an instant.

The Utah County law enforcement community is processing losing their co-worker and friend, Cannon said.

“There will be a hole there to fill and that feeling is going to take a while to go away, especially for those that work more closely with Steve,” Cannon said. “You don’t get over it. You don’t find closure. I think you find a way to work your way through it and learn how to live with it.”

As the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigate the crash, family members have set up GoFundMe fundraisers for the families of Lindsay and Steven Eatchel, as well as for Thomas Eatchel.

Steven and Lindsay Eatchel died in a plane crash outside of Cedar City on Saturday, leaving behind these four children. | Family photo