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Mormon bishop’s wife ‘planning three funerals at once’ after plane crash

First Published      Last Updated Mar 09 2017 05:50 pm


Weekend tragedy » Family and friends who helped Monday with the search in rural southwestern Utah attend a service at LDS meetinghouse.

The bodies of a Mormon bishop from Sandy and his two children were found Monday after their plane crashed in rural southwestern Utah.

Randall Wells, who oversaw the LDS Church's Mount Jordan 3rd Ward — along with his 8-year-old son, Asher, and 3-year-old daughter, Sarah — died when their single-engine Cessna 172 went down over the weekend near Iron County's line with Garfield County, authorities said. They were the only three people on board.

"It's confirmed," said Garfield County sheriff's spokeswoman Denise Dastrup. "No survivors."

Wells leaves behind a wife, Kristin Wells, who, according to a fundraising page, is 20 weeks pregnant and found out last week that she is expecting a baby girl.




Her husband "was an avid outdoorsman who loved laughing and was an amazing father to his two children and a loving husband," the page says. "Randy was a beacon in the community. ... Kristin is now tasked with the heartbreaking job of planning three funerals at once."

Wells' family and friends were among those who helped with the search Monday. Many from the search party returned home and went directly to the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse, where members of the ward he oversaw joined in prayer for his widow about 5 p.m.

Wendy Davis, a member of his ward, said she thought of Wells as "my friend first and my bishop second."

He was a quiet, humble man, she said, who taught powerful lessons. Wells could sense when a person needed to talk, Davis added, sometimes "even before they did."

"I can't emphasize enough what a great guy he was," Davis said, remembering times when he'd stop by her family's home to chat or drop off vegetables from a community garden he kept, or drive around the neighborhood to check on the elderly.

The plane, initially spotted from the air at 11:05 a.m. Monday, was reached at about 11:50 a.m. by search-and-rescue ground crews.

Dastrup did not have details on the aircraft's location, other than it had been spotted in the lower Bear Valley on the Iron County side of the county line with Garfield.

Authorities said the bodies were expected to remain at the scene of the crash until late in the day as the crash site was secured.

The plane had taken off Saturday from a Phoenix airport en route to Salt Lake County, Dastrup said.

The aircraft disappeared about 17 miles northwest of Wilson Peak about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Ground and air search efforts on Sunday focused on the Little Creek and Little Creek Peak areas, along the Garfield-Iron County line, about 15 miles east of Parowan.

More than 100 searchers — on foot, horseback, ATVs, snowmobiles, and in helicopters and airplanes above — were looking for the plane, Dastrup said, including crews from Garfield, Iron, Sevier and Piute counties.

Bishops in the LDS Church serve as lay leaders of Mormon wards, or congregations, and tend to their members' spiritual and temporal needs.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims

 

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