West Jordan • Alyssa Cigarroa is accustomed to hearing planes fly over her house, just a few miles away from the South Valley Regional Airport. So, when she heard one Saturday afternoon, she didn’t think anything of it.
Then came the loud crash, a boom so great it shook her whole West Jordan home. Cigarroa thought it was an earthquake, but a look out through the back yard revealed thick black smoke and flames. She ran toward it, first-aid kit in hand.
When she got there, much of the neighborhood had already arrived, trying to help. Cigarroa remembers the eerie “high-pitched screams” of the victims and all the smoke.
The Piper PA-32 plane — a small, single-engine aircraft — crashed around 1:40 p.m. in a neighborhood near 8800 South and 4000 West. Six people were on board, and police reported that three died.
The crash damaged three houses, critically injuring one elderly homeowner.
West Jordan police spokesperson J.C. Holt said the male pilot died in addition to a woman and a 9-month-old. Another woman who was on the plane was in critical condition, and a 2-year-old boy was stable Saturday evening. A 12-year-old passenger was injured in the crash and was treated and released from the hospital.
It’s unclear why the plane crashed, but another police spokesperson, Jennifer Worthen, said it happened shortly after taking off from South Valley Regional Airport.
Veronica Taylor said she was at a nearby park when she saw a plane that “was super low, and it was so loud.” She pointed it out to her son.
Taylor said she continued to watch and thought to herself that the plane needed to gain some altitude. It was much too low.
“Then, all of a sudden, it disappeared from my view,” and Taylor said she saw a “big flame and a big plume of smoke” as it crashed.
She said that before the plane crashed, she noticed it making a noise that sounded to her like the engine was struggling.
The Federal Aviation Administration was at the scene beginning its investigation Saturday afternoon, Worthen said. It and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.
Worthen said the community quickly came together to help the people on the plane and a person who was inside one of the homes.
Residents said the neighborhood was tight-knit, and it showed Saturday as dozens gathered in the streets in the crash aftermath, discussing what they’d seen and sharing information about a woman in one of the homes who’d been injured. Some set up lawn chairs in the shade as they waited.
Cigarroa said she doesn’t remember deciding to run toward the crash. She just did it, like an automatic “fight or flight” response.
“As soon as I saw what happened,” she said, “I just got my first-aid kit and went.”
When she got to the yard, she said she talked to a woman who’d been badly burned and had deep cuts on her legs and arms. She also saw two children, one she guessed was a toddler. The other, she thought, was a teenager.
Before paramedics arrived, the 21-year-old Cigarroa, who is studying to be a nurse, packed victims’ wounds with gauze to stop the bleeding. She did what she could to help when medics arrived.
Then, after ambulances had taken everyone away, and firefighters had put out the blaze, she went back home to try to process what she’d just seen.