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Family helps first responders find crash site after watching plane go down in canyon

utah county plane crash photos courtesy gregg rawlings (7).jpg
Gregg Rawlngs helps Utah County officials find a plane crash near Box Elder Peak after he watched the plane go down on Friday, July 3, 2020. He shared these photos with officials to help them locate the downed plane. (Photo: Gregg Rawlings)

An American Fork man and his two children were hiking Box Elder Peak Friday morning when they saw the plane crash that killed four people.

Gregg Rawlings and his two teenage sons stopped for a water break and to take pictures when they looked up and saw the plane getting closer.

“It corkscrewed maybe one-and-a-half, two times and went below the tree level. And we’re like, 'what is going on?' I didn’t know if it was a stunt plane trying to do something, but just moments later we heard the impact,” said Rawlings.

Immediately after that, they hiked further up the peak to get cell phone service and called 911. Then they made their way closer to the crash to get the coordinates to first responders, and to see if they could help.

“That is someone’s family down there. We don’t know what happened; we don’t know what state they’re in. We need to go check it,” Rawlings recalled.

Rawlings and his sons found the plane in a green grassy area. They said there wasn’t any smoke or flames like they were expecting,

“We came upon the plane, calling out, seeing if there was any response to see if there was any type of survivors, if we could help with what first aid we know. We walked upon the wreckage closer, there was no responses, it was pretty evident that there was no survivors.”

They gave first responders pictures of the site, and the exact coordinates, as well as the details of what they saw leading up to the crash.

“When we hung up there, it was kind of a relief, knowing that we felt like we have done everything that we could,” said Rawlings.

He said the first responders coached him with how to help his boys deal with the traumatic experience.

“How to just make sure they’re OK, as we go into the future. Just making sure the trauma of what we saw and experienced doesn’t continue to affect them.”

He said he is happy they were there and able to help get first responders to the crash quickly, and not leave the family of those on board wondering what had happened. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Four people died in the crash: The pilot, Tyson Brummett, and three passengers; Alex Blackhurst Ruegner and his aunt and uncle, Doug and Elaine Blackhurst.

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