Safford reacts to death of six in plane crash
Plane was on way to Safford when it crashed Wednesday in Superstition Mountains. Crash killed three children, their father, his boss and an aircraft mechanic Video by kgun9.comvideo
Shawn Perry had just picked up his children, Luke, Logan, and Morgan to fly them to Safford for Thanksgiving
Reporter: Craig Smith
SAFFORD, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - The plane crash that killed six people, including three children is enough to shake anyone but this one is especially hard to take in the small town that was the plane's destination.
The skies are empty and the runways are quiet at the Safford airport. This was supposed to be the homecoming point for the flight that ended instead on a remote spot in the Superstition Mountains.
Pilot Russel Hardy was on board, doing a favor for fellow pilot and employee Shawn Perry. He okayed taking a company plane to Apache Junction to pick up Perry's three children for Thanksgiving.
Aircraft mechanic Joseph Hardwick presence on board made six who died when the plane slammed into the Superstition Mountains Wednesday night.
No one was interested in talking at the company offices at the Safford Airport.
But Safford is a town small enough that everyone we asked knows of that tragic instant that killed some of their neighbors.
The Casa Manana restaurant is a real community gathering point.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Adam Hoopes there: "How do people take it in a small town like this when you hear about something this awful?"
Hoopes said, "Its dumbfounding is probably the only thing to say. Everybody knows everybody and when you find out about something like this everybody's in shock. We were at Thanksgiving in the valley and the minute after it happened everybody starts calling people and we all kind of find out at the same time."
Smith asked Safford resident Linda Brown: "What's that like when something like this comes close to a small town?"
Brown said, "It affects everyone because we just feel so sorry for them and it's just sad for all of us because this is supposed to be a happy time and especially when families are like this, when families share children that makes it double tough."
Now the holidays will hold an empty spot for the holiday homecoming that never made it back to home base.
The aircraft was about 35 years old. It was built in 1976. Registration records suggest the company acquired it only about a month ago.
Age of an aircraft does not automatically suggest any sort of safety problem. They can fly safely for many years if their structure is checked and engines and systems are replaced when needed. But it would be standard for investigators to look for age related things like corrosion as a source of problems.