BIRDSEYE, Utah County — A plane crashed near Spanish Fork on Thursday, killing a South Jordan man and critically injuring the Orem pilot.
The Cessna 172 reported about 10:25 a.m. that there was a fire in the cockpit and that the pilot was going to attempt to land on U.S. 89, said Utah County Sheriff's Lt. Yvette Rice.
At almost the same time the Salt Lake City International Airport was relaying that information, the Utah Highway Patrol reported a plane crash off to the side of U.S. 89 near Birdseye.
Passenger Gerald Wilson, 50, of South Jordan, was killed in the crash. Pilot Nicholas Soter, 66, of Orem, was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
The plane wreckage partially blocked the highway, according to the UHP.
Tom Hirtzel came upon the accident minutes after it happened. The plane ended up with its tail sticking out of a ditch and the nose of the plane pinned down. Most of the plane was intact following the crash, he said.
Hirtzel and several others worked for about 25 minutes to get Soter out of the plane.
"It was tough because the person who survived was kind of awkwardly in the wreckage," he said. "I didn't really think about it too much. We just recognized we needed to get him out. He was upside-down and in a very precarious position. We were worried he wouldn't survive if we couldn't get him out and breathing in a more comfortable way."
Hirtzel said the aircraft hit power lines on the way down.
"It basically looked like to me the plane was having some kind of trouble and was trying to land on the highway. And it very obviously clipped power lines. Those power lines were kind of in the grass," he said.
Contributing: Jennifer Stagg