IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls community “has a dark cloud over it” following a plane crash that killed nine family members and injured three others Saturday.
That’s how Brian Wood describes his thoughts one day after Jim Hansen Sr., his sons, Kirk and Jim Hansen Jr., and six others, including two children, died in the South Dakota crash. The Hansens were executives with Conrad & Bischoff, Kyäni and KJ’s Super Stores.
Wood is the owner of Wood Funeral Home and calls the Hansens “pillars in the community.”
“Oftentimes people that lose a loved one are not financially prepared to pay for the many things surrounding their final expenses,” Wood wrote in a Facebook post. “Many, many times through the years I received a text message from Jim or Kirk asking if there was anyone having a hard time paying their bill. When there was, they’d give me their credit card number without a second thought and pay the bill for them.”
The Hansen family is now preparing for the funerals of those generous men and the others who perished in the crash. They were on a weekend hunting trip and returning home to Idaho Falls when the Pilatus PC-12, which was carrying them went down near the Chamberlain Municipal Airport. The area was under a winter storm warning with visibility a half of a mile at the airport, according to the National Weather Service.
Three National Transportation Safety Board investigators were en route to the scene Sunday morning but were unable to get to the crash site because all of the roads were closed, Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the NTSB, tells EastIdahoNews.com. A preliminary report on the plane crash should be released in about a week.
Family members in Idaho Falls traveled to South Dakota Saturday evening to visit the three survivors in the hospital, relatives say. Their conditions have not been released and EastIdahoNews.com is not reporting their names or the names of the other fatalities at this time.
Tributes to the Hansen brothers are being shared through phone calls, text messages and on social media. It seems everyone who knew them has a positive story to share. Not only were they well-known businessmen but they served in prominent positions with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including bishoprics and stake presidencies.
“Jim Sr. was asked to lead a bunch of rowdy, ill-behaved 16-year-old boys in the neighborhood church. I was one of them,” Darin Skidmore recalls. “It is Jim Sr. who talked me into trying waterskiing. I got up my very first try, which brought a smile to his face. Over the years, Jim Sr. always kept track of me and made time for a conversation…Most people will never know just how much good the Hansen family has done.”
Skidmore adds, “The city of Idaho Falls is a better place because of them…I believe God puts people like them on the earth to help people like me and you. The loss of these great men will never be recovered.”
Tony Blakeslee and his family attended church with Jim Sr., a man who had a special love for children.
“They always set aside a bag of Halloween treats for our kids every year,” Blakeslee tells EastIdahoNews.com. “This was the first time in 15 years we missed them because they were at their kid’s house late. This accident is just so tragic and unreal.”
Kevin Call, the owner of Farr Candy Company, describes the news of the plane crash as “heartbreaking.”
“They were our good friends,” Call says. “Their influence in the community and church will be heavily felt. They weren’t showy but quiet, heavy contributors.”
The accident has turned into a national story with dozens of news outlets, including NBC News, The Daily Mail, Fox News and others, posting articles about it. The influence of the Hansens is being felt around the world and those who knew them best are praying for their families.
“Jim Sr.’s wife, Coralee, is a tough but tender matriarch. Her family is the most important thing she has, and she lets everyone know it,” Skidmore says. ” She will lead her family through the pain and suffering of this tragedy.
Please keep this great family in your prayers, lift up their hands when they hang down, and strengthen their knees should they become feeble.”