MOAB It was a somber scene Saturday as investigators sorted through what little was left of a plane that crashed here, killing 10 Cedar City residents.
The plane's pilot, as well as nine employees of the Red Canyon Aesthetics and Medical Spa dermatology clinic, were killed Friday night shortly after the plane took off from Canyonlands Field Airport northwest of Moab.
"The plane was completely engulfed in flames," said Grand County Sheriff James Nyland.
At the crash sight Saturday, officials from the state medical examiner's office had the grim task of removing the burned bodies from the wreckage. One by one, the bodies were taken from the debris, wrapped in plastic, put into red body bags, loaded onto the back of a six-wheel ATV and taken to a truck at the top of a hill above the crash site. From there, the bodies were to be transported to the medical examiner's office.
The last body was removed from the site a little after 3 p.m. The wreckage and the bodies were burned so badly that it was impossible to those not professionally trained to distinguish one from the other. The National Transportation Safety Board, the lead agency in the investigation, estimated its investigators, along with those from the Federal Aviation Administration, would be at the crash site for three to five days, said NTSB accident investigator Josh Cawthra.
Also expected to be at the scene of the crash Saturday were representatives from Hawker Beechcraft, which made the plane, and Pratt & Whitney, which made its engines.
NTSB officials said they think a preliminary report on the crash will come out within the next five to 10 days. As of Saturday afternoon, they would not speculate on the possible cause of the incident.
The plane was used as part of a time-share between the dermatology clinic and the Leavitt Group, according to Dane Leavitt, the company's chief executive officer.
Those killed were pilot David White; Dr. Lansing Ellsworth, the clinic director; David Goddard, a medical assistant; Mandy Johnson; Marcie Tillery, 29; Valerie Imlay, 52; Keith Shumway, 29; Dallin Ellsworth, 23; Camie Vigil, 25; and Cecilee Goddard, 31.
Once a month, Dr. Ellsworth, a dermatologist, traveled to Moab to see as many patients as he could in a day. They traveled to Moab Friday to provide cancer screening and treatment to local residents.
Leavitt, whose brother is Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor and the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, said the plane was transporting half of Dr. Ellsworth's dermatology staff. According to Leavitt, half of the clinic operated in a medical office, with the other half traveling on a daily basis to outlying communities that would otherwise be unable to receive their services.
"It's been an absolute tragedy," said Dr. Rand Colbert, Dr. Ellsworth's business partner. "The people on board were absolutely amazing people.
"I've been really impressed by the way the community has pulled together."
The Ellsworth family issued a statement Saturday thanking friends and family for their support.
"We appreciate the outpouring of love we've received from neighbors, family and friends," the family statement said. "Your prayers and faith are sustaining us. ... The loss of these medical providers will be felt far and wide. Their service will not soon be forgotten."
Town in mourning
Cedar City, the town the pilot and nine clinic staffers call home, was shaken by news of the crash. Of the 10 people who died, four victims were from two families, the Ellsworth and Goddard families. One victim, Dallin Ellsworth, left a wife who is pregnant and due to give birth in five weeks. Another victim, Mandy Johnson, got engaged Thursday a day before she was killed.
Cedar City Police Chief Bob Allinson said the town of 28,000 has "grown so much, everybody doesn't know everybody anymore. But there's still a lot of family connections and civic connections."
For instance, Allinson had been a patient of Dr. Ellsworth and has an officer whose mother, Valerie Imlay, worked at the clinic and was killed in the crash.
"Val," as people called her, was civic-minded. "She was a good, good woman," Allinson said.
Imlay served on a board that raises money for the Children's Justice Center, an organization that interviews abused children for police investigations.
Allinson's police department also had the job of notifying next of kin about the crash, along with the Iron County Sheriff's Office, after the Grand County Sheriff's Office notified them.
"Definitely, I don't know anything much worse than telling people their loved one's passed away," he said.
Bret Whittier, president of the Cedar North Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, knew Dr. Ellsworth, the clinic director, and his son, Dallin Ellsworth. The Ellsworth family is holding onto their faith. While visitors came to the family's single-story gray stone and brick house to give condolences to the family Saturday night, Dr. Ellsworth's wife attended a stake conference meeting. "She's a strong woman," Whittier said.
Dr. Ellsworth had lived in Cedar City for about 13 years, President Whittier said. Prior to that, the family lived in Tucson, Ariz. Dr. Ellsworth had four children and was born and raised in Mesa, Ariz.
"In my religious calling I knew him to be a very generous man," Whittier said. "He was very concerned about people who needed help whether it was to be serving a mission or making it through another day. I can't think of a kinder person."
Dallin Ellsworth was taking pre-medicine courses at Southern Utah University and wanted to become a doctor like his father. He helped his father around the clinic, Whittier said.
Dallin served an LDS Church mission in Argentina. "His wife is due is five weeks," Whittier said. "They've been married for about two years."
David Goddard and Cecilee Goddard were both outgoing, said their family.
David Goddard was a physician's assistant who graduated from Duke University in 1976, said Ann Goddard, his former wife, who said they have remained friends since their divorce two years ago. David and Ann Goddard met in the Peace Corps volunteering in the Tonga Islands. They had also lived in Washington, D.C.; Boise; Portland, Ore.; Las Vegas; and Nebraska before settling in Cedar City about seven years ago.
"We wanted to be back in the West where our families are," Ann Goddard said.
The couple had three children. Cecilee was the oldest.
"My dad was well-known for really listening to his patients," said Chelsea Goddard, 23, who remembered her dad's love for cooking and gardening, bicycling and his biodiesel truck that he fueled with fuel that he made himself. David Goddard was known for his talents in surgery, particularly the precision with which he sewed up wounds, helping people with severe injuries heal physically and emotionally.
"I think he really loved that his kids were adults, and connecting with them," Ann Goddard said, recalling how he liked to go shooting with his 27-year-old son, Yorke.
Cecilee Goddard was trained in the clinic as an aesthetician but most recently worked in the clinic as a medical assistant and worked on the side at a spa.
She leaves behind a daughter, Zoe, who is 2 1/2.
"Her favorite thing is her little girl," Ann Goddard said.
Cecilee Goddard loved nature, particularly hiking and the pools at Zion National Park, about 45 minutes from Cedar City. She was an artist who enjoyed ceramics, drawing and painting.
Mandy Johnson, 20, accomplished everything she set her mind to, said her brother, Met Johnson. She was a communications major at SUU, scheduled to graduate in December 2009. She had taught English at a girls school in the Ukraine for six months. She had planned to marry him planned to be married in an LDS temple ceremony Dec. 19.
"Mandy had great zeal for life," said Met Johnson, who talked about his sister's ready smile.
Johnson, who was Miss Hurricane when she was 16 and was first attendant for Miss Washington County last year, became engaged to her boyfriend Thursday night at the Cedar City golf course. Met Johnson is happy that her fiance asked Mandy's parents to meet them at the golf course. It was the last time they saw her.
"They were able to be there after he proposed," Met Johnson said. "That was a wonderful thing for my mom and dad."
Johnson worked as a secretary dealing with insurance companies at the clinic.
Barraclough said with all the outdoor recreationists in Moab, having a doctor specializing in skin problems was a huge help. Ellsworth would see between 45 and 50 patients each day he came, Barraclough said. Furthermore, he brought all his own supplies and staff.
"He was very well-liked, a consummate professional. I wish all my visiting physicians were as thorough and self-sufficient."
The plane was a 10-seat King Air A-100. White, the pilot, had more than 2,000 hours of flying time and his flying was rated at airline quality, according to Leavitt.
"There will be a lot of people affected by this accident," Leavitt said. "We're deeply saddened. We loved these people. They were members of the community, family and friends."
"Our hearts are broken by this tragedy. We hold with gratitude our faith in God, and along with the hundreds touched by this accident, seek from Him strength, comfort and perspective," Leavitt said in the Leavitt Group's official statement.
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. issued a statement of condolences to the families of the victims.
"This is a tragedy for the communities of Moab, Cedar City and Hurricane and for our whole state," Huntsman's statement read. "Mary Kaye and I offer our most sincere condolences as our prayers go out to these communities and the friends and families of the 10 victims. We ask all our citizens to remember these good families who have experienced such sudden loss in our thoughts and prayers.
"Our gratitude goes to the emergency crews who worked on this terrible scene."
Red Canyon Aesthetics has seven clinics in Utah, two in Nevada and one in Page, Ariz., according to the company's Web site.The airplane was owned by Leavitt Group Wings.