Helena plane crash preliminary findings released

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary findings report regarding a July 31 plane crash in Helena. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary findings report regarding a July 31 plane crash in Helena. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HELENA—The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary findings report on a July 31 plane crash in Helena.

According to the report, at around 2 p.m., a Piper PA-32-300, N9103K operated by a private individual crashed when “the engine suddenly lost all power without any prior indication or anomalies.” The plane hit trees about one mile south of the Bessemer airport, “during the impact with trees the airplane rolled inverted and then impacted the ground.”

According to the report, the plane’s four occupants were able to escape “before the plane was consumed by a postcrash fire,” but all four “were seriously injured.”

The flight originated from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, Fla., and was intended to land at Dickson Municipal Airport in Dickson, Tenn.

According to the NTSB, a Garmin 496 GPS was recovered from the plane’s cockpit. The GPS and the plane’s engine have been “retained for further examination.”

The plane crashed into the Dancing Daylily Garden, located at 4353 South Shades Crest Road in Helena. The garden, owned and cared for by Helena resident Becky Parr, is home to more than 1,400 varieties of daylilies.

Parr was home at the garden at the time of the crash.

“I was scared to death,” Parr said, noting her house had burned down two years ago. “Just so many things went through my mind.”

The plane crashed through trees and landed in flowerbeds on the property.

Seven trees were extensively damaged and need to be removed and two flowerbeds were entirely destroyed, Parr said.

Additionally, the sprinkler system was damaged during the crash.

“I’m still waiting on estimates (of the damage),” Parr said, adding 40 gallons of fuel from the engine sprayed over surrounding flowerbeds.

“It’s a lot of work. We built this garden, it took us five years,” Parr said. “We’re going to get through it.”