NTSB: No evidence of mechanical failure in plane crash that killed North Dakota family of four

November 3, 2023

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal investigators say they found no evidence of a mechanical failure before a North Dakota state senator’s plane crashed in Utah last month, killing him, his wife and their two young children, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Doug and Amy Larsen and their two sons, 11-year-old Christian and 8-year-old Everett, died Oct. 1 in the crash near Moab, Utah. The family’s single-engine aircraft went down shortly after they had stopped to refuel while returning home from a family gathering in Arizona.

The plane was piloted by Doug Larsen, 47, who flew Black Hawk helicopters and mobilized twice during his 29 years with the North Dakota Army National Guard.

Larsen had recently earned his commercial pilot’s license and had hopes of one day flying for a major airline, state Sen. Jim Roers said.

He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star and Army Aviator Badge, among other honors. He had logged about 1,800 total military flight hours, according to National Guard spokesperson Nathan Rivard.

Larsen was posthumously promoted from lieutenant colonel to colonel, having met the criteria for promotion, Rivard said.

Funeral services were held Oct. 10 for the four Larsens. They were laid to rest in the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. Dozens of state lawmakers attended.

Larsen, a Republican, was elected to the North Dakota Senate in 2020. In the 2023 session, he chaired a Senate panel that handled industry- and business-related legislation.

District Republicans recently appointed a successor for his seat representing Mandan, the city neighboring Bismarck to the west across the Missouri River. Justin Gerhardt, a project manager with a construction company who served nine years with the North Dakota Army National Guard, will serve the remainder of Larsen’s term through November 2024. The seat is on the ballot next year for a full, four-year term.