SANDY — The family of an LDS bishop and his two young children who died in a plane crash released a statement Tuesday offering thanks for "the outpouring of support from the community."
Following an intense search of the rugged area northwest of Panguitch, the bodies of Randall "Randy" Wells and his two children, 8-year-old Asher and 3-year-old Sara, were found Monday in the wreckage of Wells' single-engine plane. The Sandy father and his children were returning home from a wedding in Phoenix when the plane disappeared, according to relatives and friends.
Dano Gillette, Wells' brother-in-law, released a statement thanking law enforcement from Iron, Piute, Beaver, Garfield and Sevier counties and searchers who helped find the plane.
"We would like to share our love to all of the volunteers that came out the past two days to help search. And also those who expressed their love on social media," Gillette wrote. "We can't describe how grateful we are for the closure we received and that we were able to find the plane."
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
A supervisor for an employee who refueled Wells' plane at Page Municipal Airport in Arizona confirmed that, when Wells stopped at the airport Saturday night, he appeared fatigued.
The employee offered Wells a place to stay and sleep, which Wells declined, according to the supervisor, who would not provide his name.
Employees at the airport have been grieved by the tragedy, the supervisor said.
Keith Holloway, NTSB spokesman, said investigators will look into the possibility of pilot fatigue as well as information that can be gleaned from Wells' medical records, a standard procedure in a crash investigation. Air traffic communications, radar data and maintenance records for the aircraft will also be examined.
The wreckage from Wells' Cessna 172 is being removed from remote area and transported to a secure facility, safe from the elements, where it can be examined, Holloway said.
While the agency's ultimate findings about the crash may not be available for several months, a preliminary report may be released in the a few weeks, Holloway said.
After the plane was found Monday, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said Wells was flying through a dark, moonless night with squalls moving in and may have dropped too low.
The family statement released Tuesday remembered Wells as a loving father and husband who strived to teach and serve those around him.1 comment on this story
"Randy will always be known as a selfless man that put the needs of others over his own. If he came to gardening, building or creating something, or gospel related he always knew how to teach with his deeds and help you to understand," Gillette wrote.
Asher was described as a bright-eyed boy who loved spending time with his father, while Sara was called her mother's "sidekick," a vibrant and humorous girl.
"If something can be said about this family is that they loved each other and knew how to serve others," Gillette said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral costs.