On 11-23-2011, at approximately 6:31 p.m., PCSO dispatch received numerous emergency calls from concerned citizens who reported seeing a plane crash near the top of the Superstition Mountains.
As deputies and members of Search and Rescue responded, a fire could be seen burning just below the top of the mountain in the area known as Flat Iron.
Working with staff from the National Transportation Safety Board, PCSO confirmed a Rockwell 690A, dual engine airplane had taken off from Falcon Field Airport in Mesa with six passengers at 6:15 p.m. and crashed minutes later.
On board were three adult males and three children.
Russell Hardy, 31, Thatcher, AZ, co-pilot and partial owner of the aircraft
Joseph Hardwick, 22, Safford, AZ, airplane mechanic
Shawn Perry, 39, Safford, AZ, co-pilot
Morgan Perry, 9, Gold Canyon, AZ
Logan Perry, 8, Gold Canyon, AZ
Luke Perry, 6, Gold Canyon, AZ
Shawn Perry, with the assistance of Russell Hardy, landed at Falcon Field from Safford, Arizona at 4:30 p.m. to refuel and pick-up his two sons and daughter. Their goal was to fly back to Safford to celebrate Thanksgiving together.
PCSO Search and Rescue Team members enter the MCSO helicopter Thursday morning for transport to the crash scene.
Utilizing Rapid Response, members from PCSO and the Department of Public Safety were flown to 5,000 feet via helicopter by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department to the crash sight where they located the body of one child Wednesday evening. By midnight, teams secured the area and waited for daybreak to resume recovery efforts.
On Thursday morning, additional PCSO Tactical teams were sent to the crash site to repel to the plane’s main fuselage to locate additional victims; an evidence technician and detectives from homicide were also airlifted to help investigate.
Further inspection of the plane and crash site turned up bodies of the remaining victims. Families of those killed in the crash have been notified.
The NTSB will begin its official investigation into the crash and handle further updates.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, "We express deep sympathy to the families and friends of the crash victims. No person could survive this mountain side crash and explosion. I'm proud of the continuous search and recovery operations by our Pinal County Deputies and highly trained Search & Rescue Posse. We have provided the utmost respect and dignity in the recovery of human remains. Critical air support was provided by the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, DPS and Mesa PD. Our team effort included the Apache Junction PD, Apache Junction Fire, US Forest Service, Game and Fish, as well as the PCSO and MCSO Medical Examiner’s Offices."