SIOUX FALLS (AP) – The three survivors of a South Dakota plane crash that killed nine members of an extended family from Idaho were in stable condition Monday, a family representative said.
The survivors were being treated at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. The family was returning from an annual pheasant-hunting trip when the plane crashed Saturday in a cornfield near Chamberlain shortly after takeoff during a snowstorm.
Jeff Walbom, the family representative, called the crash a “total tragedy” for the extended family.
Brothers Jim and Kirk Hansen, who founded the nutritional and wellness products company Kyani, were killed. The crash also killed their father, Jim Hansen Sr.; Kirk Hansen’s children, Stockton and Logan; his sons-in-law, Kyle Naylor and Tyson Dennert; and Jim Hansen’s son Jake and grandson, Houston.
Kirk’s son Josh and Jim’s son Matt and son-in-law Thomas Long survived.
The family also ran a petroleum products distribution business called Conrad & Bischoff and a string of gas stations called KJ’s Super Stores.
The family was returning to Idaho Falls at midday Saturday after traveling to South Dakota for a pheasant hunt they took every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving. They were hunting at Thunderstik Lodge, which sits on the bank of the Missouri River and is six miles from the Chamberlain airport.
Twelve people were aboard when their Pilatus PC-12 crashed within a mile after takeoff.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said small planes are not usually restricted from taking off during storms and that pilots are “the ultimate authority” for deciding whether to fly.
Federal investigators were arriving at the crash site Monday. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said no cause has been determined and that investigators would be reviewing the weather along with other factors. Storms in the region prevented investigators from reaching the site earlier.
It’s not clear who the pilot was, but Kirk Hansen had a private pilot certificate and his medical information was up to date with the FAA.
Members of the Idaho Falls community were grieving the deaths.
Walbom called the family members “pillars of the community” who were known for their generosity. Kirk and Jim Hansen were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kyani had a charitable arm that built schools in foreign countries.