IDAHO FALLS — A weekend hunting trip turned to heartbreaking tragedy Saturday afternoon when nine members of an eastern Idaho family were killed in an airplane crash.
Jim Hansen Sr., his sons, Kirk and Jim Hansen Jr., and six other family members died when their plane went down in a field near Chamberlain, South Dakota, according to relatives. The Hansens were executives with Conrad & Bischoff, Kyäni and KJ’s Super Stores.
Twelve people were on the Pilatus PC-12 that took off shortly before 12:30 p.m. CST from the Chamberlain Municipal Airport on its way to Idaho Falls. The Chamberlain area was under a winter storm warning and the National Weather Service said visibility was a half of a mile at the airport.
The plane crashed shortly after takeoff about a mile from the airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The pilot and two children were among the nine who perished. The three survivors were hospitalized in Sioux Falls, according to Brule County State Attorney Theresa Maule.
The Brule County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, alongside the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board. The cause of the crash has not been determined.
The Hansens have been actively involved in the Idaho Falls community. In 2017, EastIdahoNews.com spoke with Kirk Hansen when Kyäni was recognized for partnering with Idahoan in developing and distributing the Potato Pak – a fortified meal with essential nutrients including protein, fatty acids and vitamins.
Jim Sr. and his two sons have served in prominent positions with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including bishoprics and stake presidencies.
“The men and women of law enforcement, first responders and medical professionals should be commended in their heroic actions to rescue the victims in extreme weather conditions,” Maule said. “Our entire community has been praying for the individuals involved and their families.”
This is the second fatal airplane crash involving eastern Idahoans this month. Mike and Robin Quinn, owners of Heise Hot Springs, died when their plane went down Nov. 22 near Elko, Nevada. Their funerals will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium.
EastIdahoNews.com will post updates as we learn more.