Jeffrey S. Hoover was riding his motorcycle in an empty field when an airplane nearly crashed on him Wednesday.
"It was like a thud - louder than dynamite - and it dropped straight down in front of me," he said. "It was about 50 or 75 feet away."The single-engine Cessna 172 went down about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, killing the two people on board.
Mina Shabestari, 51, Cottonwood Heights.
Hooshang Shabestari, 60, Cottonwood Heights.
The couple was married, Salt Lake County deputy Peggy Faulkner said.
No flight plan had been filed with the airport tower at the nearby Airport No. 2; however, it appears the plane may have just taken off, Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Bill Brass said.
Airport No. 2 was home base for the Shabestaris' Cessna 172, said airport general aviation manager Brian O'Leary, who knew the couple. They were experienced pilots, he said. He didn't know who was flying the plane Wednesday.
The airport, which is located at 4400 West between 6200 and 7800 South, is not equipped with a control tower, but pilots are required to broadcast a flight advisory plan on an area radio frequency prior to taking off, O'Leary said.
There would be no record of that broadcast, however "I'm sure they would have done that; it's a mandatory FAA policy," O'Leary said.
Accidents at the small strip, which caters to small airplanes, are infrequent, he said.
It was unclear what caused the crash, but Hoover, 30, saw the plane clip some power lines before it plunged to the ground. He was riding in a field near his house around dusk when he saw some bright flashes of light off to his side. It was the plane crashing through the wires.
"I didn't know what it was at first. I thought maybe somebody was shooting at me . . . You worry about getting hit by a car or breaking a leg while riding a motorcycle, but you don't worry about getting hit by a plane," Hoover said.
Seconds later, the plane glided directly above him and crashed to the ground as he rode southeast. Hoover jumped off his bike and ran to the wreckage.
He feared the plane might explode, and he wanted to pull the passengers away before that happened. But when he got there, the people were already dead.
"It was very silent after the crash," he said. "I yelled, `Are you OK?' but they didn't respond."
The white and blue plane was smashed and mangled, said Hoover, an agent for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Salt Lake City. It lost a wing when it crashed into the wires and flew about a half-mile before it slammed to the ground on its top.
After he discovered nobody was alive, Hoover jumped on his motorcycle and rushed to a phone to call for help.
The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to begin an investigation into the crash Thursday.