Dan Liljenquist - a Republican candidate for state Senate District 23, which covers five cities in south Davis County - is recovering from surgery on a broken right leg and a broken left ankle in a Guatemala City hospital, his wife Brooke Liljenquist said Monday.
The plane, a Cessna Caravan model aircraft, was carrying humanitarian workers to a village in the area of El Estor to build a school, a project that was to take about seven days. A total of 14 people - 10 Americans and four Guatemalans - were on board at the time of the crash, which killed 11 people, including three Utahns, according to the Associated Press.
Of the dead, five were from CHOICE Humanitarian, a nonprofit based in West Jordan that has done volunteer work in Africa and Central and South America for about 25 years.
Members of the CHOICE organization killed are Expedition Director Liz Johnson, who is from Utah; Roger Jensen and his son Zachary from Wisconsin; and representatives Javier Rabanales and Walfred de Rabanales from Guatemala. The pilot and co-pilot, Fernando Estrada and Monica Bonilla, both of Guatemala, also died, the Associated Press reported.
Also killed were four employees of Focus Services, Inc., a call center based in Roy, Utah, that was working alongside CHOICE Humanitarian on the mission. Employees Cody Odekirk and John Carter were from Utah; and Jeff Reppe and Lydia Silva were from Illinois.
Employees from both organizations were in shock and disbelief Monday.
"This has never happened in our company before," said Lew Swain, a spokesperson for CHOICE Humanitarian. "It's devastating to family, friends and associates. We've lost good friends and supporters to a cause that needs more supporters."
The pilot had called in with engine trouble about 45 minutes before crashing in a field about 60 miles east of Guatemala City, and the burned wreckage of the plane was scattered along the edge of a barren field lined with palm trees, an aviation official and a survivor told the Associated Press.
Brooke Liljenquist said her husband told her that passengers were alerted that the plane would have to make an emergency landing, and in the course of that attempt something went wrong. A group of farmers pulled her husband from the wreckage just before the plane exploded, saving his life, she said.
Sarah Jensen, a 19-year-old from Amery, Wis., who survived the crash with minor cuts and bruises, told the Associated Press her brother and father were killed in the crash, and that her mother suffered serious burns and contusions.
Brooke Liljenquist said she spoke after the crash with Jensen, who told her that both she and Dan Liljenquist were sitting on the left side of the plane, close to an exit door.
This is the third year in which Focus Services has teamed up with CHOICE on an international mission. John Porter, president of Focus Services, Inc., which has about 900 employees in Utah, said the company is still trying to deal with the tragedy and has no plans as of yet to discontinue further missions.
"We have a culture centered around giving back locally and making a contribution in different parts of the world," he said. "That will not change."
Brooke Liljenquist said she is still unsure when her husband will be able to come home, but she looks forward to his safe return.
"I feel blessed that my husband is coming home," she said, adding she may fly to Guatemala Tuesday if she thinks he won't make it back to Utah before this weekend. Dan Liljenquist's brother and his father, both doctors, flew to Guatemala City Monday morning to be with him.
Sen. Dan Eastman, the current state senator in District 23 who is retiring at the end of the year, said he wishes Liljenquist a quick recovery.
"It's a disaster, but a miracle that he survived," he said. "I think he'll stay in the race. He certainly is an important candidate in this race and I trust that he'll continue."
So far, accounts have been set up separately for the families of John Carter and Cody Odekirk and Zion's Bank.
- Cathy McKitrick contributed to this report.