North Dakota state senator, his wife and 2 kids killed in Utah plane crash

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A state senator from North Dakota, his wife and their two young children died when the small plane they were traveling in crashed in Utah, a Senate leader said Monday.

Doug Larsen’s death was confirmed Monday in an email that Republican Senate Majority Leader David Hogue sent to his fellow senators and was obtained by The Associated Press.

The plane crashed Sunday evening shortly after taking off from Canyonlands Airfield about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Moab, according to a Grand County Sheriff’s Department statement posted on Facebook. The sheriff’s office said all four people on board the plane were killed.

“Senator Doug Larsen, his wife Amy, and their two young children died in a plane crash last evening in Utah,” Hogue wrote in his email. “They were visiting family in Scottsdale and returning home. They stopped to refuel in Utah.”

Other news
North Dakota Secretary of State Michael Howe, at left, and Attorney General Drew Wrigley, at right, converse with State Treasurer Thomas Beadle, unseen, before a meeting at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Howe and Wrigley are named in a federal lawsuit filed by supporters of a proposed ballot measure for congressional age limits in North Dakota. The measure backers seek to use out-of-state petition circulators for their initiative push. (AP Photo/Jack Dura)Backers of North Dakota congressional age limits sue over out-of-state petitioner banFILE - Republican presidential candidate North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a town hall meeting with employees at Rueter's Equipment, June 9, 2023, in Elkhart, Iowa. The North Dakota Supreme Court struck down a major budget bill for the state government, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, likely meaning lawmakers must come back to Bismarck to do the massive bill over again. In a statement, Burgum said he is arranging meetings with legislative leaders for how to best respond. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)Gov. Burgum and North Dakota Republicans are rushing to fix a major budget bill struck down by court90 440Trump rivals try to make headway and other things to watch during the GOP presidential debate

“I’m not sure where the bereavement starts with such a tragedy, but I think it starts with prayers for the grandparents, surviving stepchild of Senator Larsen, and extended family of Doug and Amy,” Hogue wrote. “Hold your family close today.”

A bouquet of roses was draped over Larsen’s desk in the Senate chamber, just above the nameplate that reads: “D. Larsen – District 34.”

The crash of the single-engine Piper plane was being investigated, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a post on X, the social media website formerly called Twitter.

Read More:   Supporters of US aid to Ukraine are watching the turmoil in the House with growing alarm

An NTSB spokesman said a board investigator was expected to arrive at the scene Monday “to begin to document the scene, examine the aircraft, request any air traffic communications, radar data, weather reports and try to contact any witnesses. Also, the investigator will request maintenance records of the aircraft, and medical records and flight history of the pilot.”

It’s not clear who was piloting the plane at the time of the crash. Online FAA information stated, “Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances after takeoff, Moab, UT.”

A phone message left with sheriff’s officials seeking additional information wasn’t immediately returned Monday.

Larsen was a Republican first elected to the North Dakota Senate in 2020. His district comprises Mandan, the city neighboring Bismarck to the west across the Missouri River. Larsen chaired a Senate panel that handled industry and business legislation. He and his wife, Amy, were business owners.

Larsen served 29 years in the North Dakota Army National Guard. He mobilized twice, to Iraq from 2009-10 and to Washington, D.C., from 2013-14, according to Gov. Doug Burgum’s office. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star and Army Aviator Badge among other honors.

Burgum in a statement said Larsen “was a father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, businessman, state senator and lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard who committed himself fully to each of those roles with an unwavering sense of honor and duty. As a legislator, he was a tenacious advocate for individual rights and the freedoms he defended through his military service.”

Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, who is adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, said, “I cannot think of a more tragic loss for one family, and the North Dakota National Guard sends our condolences to all of (the Larsens’) friends and family. Doug was a true patriot who dedicated his life, both in and out of uniform, to serving others. I had the distinct pleasure to call him a Brother in Arms.”

Read More:   Pakistan announces big crackdown on migrants in the country illegally, including 1.7 million Afghans

Republican state Sen. Scott Meyer, who sat behind Larsen in the Senate, remembered him for his unique and dry sense of humor, candor on issues and passion for flying. He recalled a Saturday afternoon in the Senate chamber when Larsen talked with fellow senators for roughly an hour about flying planes and working on his private pilot’s license.

“He was passionate about flying. He really was,” Meyer said.

The sheriff’s office didn’t respond to inquiries about who was in the pilot seat when the plane crashed. In a December 2020 Facebook post, Larsen noted his wife had flown “her first flight as a pilot.” The post included a picture of a small, orange plane.

District Republicans will appoint a successor to fill out the remainder of Larsen’s term, through November 2024. His Senate seat is on the ballot next year. Republicans control North Dakota’s Legislature with supermajorities in the House and Senate.

Moab is a tourism-centered community of about 5,300 people near Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

___

Gruver reported from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

About The Author

Scroll to Top