SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah pilot killed with three other people when a small plane crashed on a highway also lost a brother to an aviation accident 15 years ago, the family’s Mormon bishop said Thursday.
The Wednesday deaths of pilot Layne Clarke, 48, his wife and two of their friends were like a tragic rerun of brother Corry Clarke’s 2002 death in a gyroplane, bishop Steve Cottle said.
“It’s a lot of the same feelings, the same questions,” said Cottle, a leader in the family’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation.
Layne Clarke was traveling to Island Park, Idaho, for a vacation of boating and campfires with his wife Diana and two friends, Perry and Sarah Huffaker.
Layne Clarke was a careful pilot who flew at least once a week in the summer, often taking family and friends with him, said Cottle. He was headed back to Idaho after returning for weekend church activities, he said.
Each couple left behind four children.
The Beechcraft A36 Bonanza Layne Clarke was piloting crashed on a highway, narrowly missing cars when it barreled across lanes through a gap in traffic.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating why the plane went down shortly after takeoff in Ogden, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.
Recordings of 911 calls reflect the horror felt by people who saw the crash.
“That plane nosedived straight into the ground. There’s a big black cloud. It just exploded,” one man told a dispatcher.
A woman described the plane suddenly spinning out of control and hitting the ground. Another woman sobbed as she reported watching it hit the ground.
The crash closed most of Interstate 15 for more than eight hours after the afternoon crash, the Utah Highway Patrol said.
The 2002 crash that killed Corry Clarke happened right after takeoff for a flight to drop off candy for a children’s party at their church.
He was a passenger learning to fly the helicopter-airplane hybrid craft when it fell 400 feet (122 meters), crashed and was engulfed in flames due to a mechanical failure, Cottle said.
The two brothers had briefly planned to start a side business selling the aircraft, but Layne Clarke abandoned the idea after his brother’s death, Cottle said.
They also started a successful automotive paint supply business that Layne Clarke owned at the time of his death, Cottle said. He’d received his pilot’s license about five years ago.
Corry Clarke left a wife and five children when he died at age 34.
“This is a strong family,” Cottle said. “It’s going to hurt for a long time, but they’ll make it.”
Perry Huffaker worked in the city of Ogden’s parks department. The City Council said in a statement that they were mourning his loss.
“Ogden is a better place because of Perry’s service,” the council said in a statement.