Coconino County, AZ- A missing aircraft crashed in a remote area of the Navajo Indian Reservation, east of the Grand Canyon National Park in the northeast part of Coconino County. Two people were confirmed dead today after a search that began Sunday morning June 21, 2014.
The aircraft, which departed Las Vegas, NV sometime Friday June 20, 2014, landed in Page, AZ 131 miles from Grand Canyon National Park East Entrance and then departed Page at 1:30 pm Arizona time destined for South Carolina. The pilot had not filed a flight plan. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) found while investigating a report of an overdue aircraft with two males aboard that the last cellphone contact with the pilot’s phone was off a tower at Navajo Mountain shortly after take-off from Page. The AFRCC then contact the Civil Air Patrol Wings from several states, who launched a multi-state search.
Searchers flew across four states, including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Four Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Wings were involved in the air search. A ground search team was deployed to Tuba City, located 80 miles from Grand Canyon National Park East Entrance, and a Communications Team from Colorado was deployed to Page. At around 1:40 pm Arizona time, the Arizona Wing of the CAP located from the air the wreckage of a plane in a canyon. Wreckage matching the description of the missing aircraft was found at the bottom of a remote desert area called Peach Canyon.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Detectives along with Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter responded to the scene and confirmed the deaths according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office. Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter based out of Flagstaff transported Sheriff’s detectives to the scene. Due to the remote nature of the canyon, access to the wreckage could only be made by helicopter. The bodies of the deceased were removed and transported to the medical examiner’s office in Flagstaff.
While positive identification of the victims will be made by the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, the pilot is believed to be 47-year-old Charles Trotter of Liberty, SC and the passenger is believed to be 15-year-old Dakota Jacks from Pickens, SC. Dakota is reported to be a friend of the pilot’s family. The cause of the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The CAP, an official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. The CAP in its Air Force auxiliary role performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited with saving around 75 lives each year. In 2013, two lives were saved by the Arizona Wing of the CAP. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information on CAP.