UNION COUNTY:  Plane found, pilot deceased

UNION COUNTY: Plane found, pilot deceased


(Release from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, this release has been posted in its entirety)

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at about 11:23 pm the Union County Sheriffs Office Search and Rescue was notified by the Oregon State Search and Rescue Coordinators Office of an overdue aircraft that had possibly crashed in Union County. A search was officially launched at that time. Coordinating with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and the Civil Air Patrol radar data was compiled and forensics was conducted on the radar track. The radar track appeared to terminate at or near Elk Willow Springs outside of La Grande Oregon. Life Flight flow into the early morning hours of September 11th attempting to locate a possible crash site using night vision equipment.

At about 8:00 am on September 11th a ground search was launched by Union County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. At about 10:30 am an Oregon Air National Guard Chinook helicopter initiated a search pattern in the general area. At this time the Union County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team had ground search units in place to respond to any potential sightings of an aircraft. At about 2:00 pm Civil Air Patrol arrived to search from the air utilizing a fixed-wing aircraft. At about 2:19 pm Civil Air Patrol spotted what may have been plane wreckage. Moments later the Chinook helicopter was overhead and verified the sighting was plane wreckage.

The Chinook helicopter hovered and maintained its position over the wreckage and gave GPS coordinates to ground search units. Within 7 minutes and at about 2:26 pm ground search units arrived on scene at the wreckage. Ground search located the missing plane and one deceased male. The scene was immediately searched by ground search units. Based on the terrain of where the crash was located, ground search units requested additional resources from the U.S. Forest Service who provided five individuals. These five individuals assisted by creating an access route to the crash site.

At about 5:00 pm Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Deputy Medical examiner arrived on scene. They identified the deceased male as David Emery Koeppen (DOB 09/13/1936) of Fruitland, Idaho.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were notified and are currently investigating the crash. The Union County Sheriff’s Office and Union County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue were assisted by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Civil Air Patrol, Oregon Air National Guard, Oregon Emergency Management, U.S. Forest Service, NTSB, and FAA.