Alta. men die in U.S. plane crash

A plane crash in Utah took the lives of four southern Alberta men on Feb. 23.

Bill Kaupp, 64, his son, Clint Kaupp, 28, Ron McKenzie, 67, and Tim Mueller, 28, did not survive the crash of the Piper Lance aircraft Bill Kaupp was piloting on a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Kaupp family runs Kaupp Family Farms, a fifth generation operation with farming interests in the Warner, New Dayton and Del Bonita regions. McKenzie and his wife, Joan, farmed with his son, Mike, near Warner and Mueller also came from a farming family in the region.

County of Warner Reeve Ross Ford said the accident is a tremendous loss to the community.

“Anytime there’s a sudden loss of a family member it hurts everybody, especially the family, and as far as the county goes, our sympathies to the families,” said Ford.

“When families are successful, the whole community is successful, and when something tragic like this happens, the whole community hurts.”

The plane carrying the four men was reported missing Feb. 22 after leaving Grand Junction Regional Airport in Mesa County, Colorado. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Feb. 23 that it had crashed near Monticello, Utah, close to the Colorado border.

A search for the plane was initially hampered by bad weather and the mountainous terrain.

In a Facebook post Feb. 23, Kaupp Family Farms said, “it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the plane has been located with no survivors. I want to tell everyone how much I appreciate the sharing, good wishes and all the condolences given over today. There’s still a lot of good in this very scary world. In the future I will talk about how great the four people that we lost were to everyone that knew them, but for now we are going to grieve.”

A service for the four men is scheduled at 1 p.m. March 6 at the Warner Civic Centre.

Ford said a loss of this magnitude will draw the community together, as is typical in rural life.

“We honor those that we lose by carrying on, and carrying on what they were a part of and all the good things that they were a part of. I think that’s what will happen.

“You see how strong a community is when something like this happens.”

Soon after getting word of the deaths, Jon Kaupp, son of Bill and brother to Clint, reported on social media that his wife had given birth to twins.

“Even Shakespeare couldn’t come up with this stuff,” tweeted Jon in reaction to the joy and the pain.

“And from tragedy comes hope — shortly after receiving yesterday’s devastating news, my wife was told by the doctor that they had to do an emergency C section. Born healthy last night, welcome my baby boy and girl as the newest members of Kaupp Family Farms.”

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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