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(Donald W. Meyers | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah County Sheriff's Office personnel investigate the crash of a two-seat aircraft on U.S. Highway 89 south of Birdseye Thursday, June 27, 2013. Sheriff's Lt. Shawn Chipman said the pilot, who was critically injured in the crash, radioed the Spanish Fork airport that his cabin was filling with smoke and was going to attempt an emergency landing on the road. A passenger in the plane was killed on impact, Chipman said. The crash blocked traffic until 1:20 p.m.
Pilot critical, but improved after fatal crash on U.S. 89
Utah County » Plane clipped power lines while attempting to land on U.S. 89.
First Published Jun 28 2013 09:25 am • Last Updated Jun 28 2013 10:53 pm

The pilot of a light airplane was in critical condition Friday, the day after he crashed during an emergency landing in southern Utah County on Thursday, killing a passenger.

However, Nicholas Soter, 66, of South Jordan, was improving. Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokesman Ryan LeCheminant said doctors reported that Soter’s vital signs had stabilized.

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It was Soter who was believed to have clipped power lines Thursday about 10:25 a.m., during an attempted emergency landing on U.S. 89 near the Utah-Sanpete county line. He had just called in a "May Day" to the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport tower, reporting fire in the cockpit.

Soter’s single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk flipped when it hit the lines and crashed upside down in a field near the tiny town of Birdseye. His passenger, Gerald Wilson, 50, of South Jordan, was dead at the scene.

Utah County sheriff’s Lt. Yvette Ricesaid the plane had taken off earlier Thursday morning from Spanish Fork and had been expected to return later in the day.

The two men worked for a company that maps the ground with radar, which is what they were doing at the time of the crash, Rice said.

The crash is being investigated jointly by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB is the lead agency in the probe, expected to take at least several weeks.


Twitter: @remims

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