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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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 was also a lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard. He and his wife, Amy, were business owners.
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.