UPDATE – Plane Crash Victims Identified – One Was Star Of Reality Show ‘Ice Road Truckers’
UPDATE - 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 29.
The Missoula County Coroner has released the names of the two men killed in Sunday's small plane crash near Rock Creek as 52 year-old Darrell Ward of Deer Lodge and 56 year-old Mark Maury Melotz of Arlee.
NBC Montana reports that Ward was a star on the History Channel's 'Ice Road Truckers', who was flying with his friend Melotz who had just purchased the plane on Friday.
Ironically, on Ward's Facebook page, a statement said he was traveling to Montana to research a new show about recovering aircraft that had crashed.
UPDATE - 12:00 a.m. Monday, August 29
Missoula County Sheriff's Officials have confirmed that there were two men aboard the Cessna 182 that crashed just off I-90 on Sunday afternoon.
A 56 year-old Arlee man and a 52 year-old Deer Lodge man were both killed in the crash. Witnesses at the scene said the plane was attempting to land at a small airstrip near Rock Creek. They were reportedly approaching the airstrip from the south, but something threw them off course. The plane struck a stand of trees on the east side of the runway, crashed onto the shoulder of the interstate and burst into flames.
The sheriff's office is in the process of notifying the victims' family members, who are all over the country. The names of the victims will be released after that process is complete.
A small, very hot grass fire was ignited by the crash and the airplane fuel, but was quickly extinguished by first responders as it headed toward the tree line.
Sheriff's officials and the Montana Highway Patrol closed off part of I-90 near the scene to preserve evidence for investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board who were en route to the site of the crash.
Two people were killed on Sunday afternoon when a small plane crashed near Rock Creek, just off Interstate 90, east of Missoula.
Undersheriff Jason Johnson with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office told KGVO News that the fatal crash occurred at about 3:00 p.m.
"Deputies responded this afternoon at about 3 p.m. along with Missoula Rural Fire and the Montana Highway Patrol to a small single engine plane, believed to be a Cessna, that crashed near the Rock Creek exit of Interstate 90," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, the two occupants of the plane did not survive the crash. The identity of the occupants will not be released until proper notification to family has been completed."
Johnson said the National Transportation safety Board has been notified, and is en route to the scene.
"In incidents like this," Johnson continued, "the crash investigation will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board. The sheriff’s office will conduct coroner duties related to this incident, but all other information will need to be obtained from the NTSB investigators.
Johnson said due to the crash, traffic in the area was delayed.
"The incident required at least one lane of eastbound traffic to be closed while first responders worked the scene," he said.
The crash started a small grass fire that was headed towards the nearby treeline, but first responders were able to extinguish it quickly.
It is not known where the aircraft was coming from, or its intended destination, or whether it was attempting to land on a small airstrip in the area.