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Up in the Air: Airplane Tragedies over Arizona

Posted On 10/21/13

Summer got an unusually tragic start in May of this year when six people were killed in two separate small plane accidents while flying in Arizona.

Prominent Sacramento, California doctor Mathew Sullivan Metzger, age 59, and his wife Mary Patricia Hughes, 54, were the sole occupants of a Beechcraft 336 single-engine plane that left Flagstaff airport en route to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah on Tuesday, May 27, 2013. Clipping treetops, the plane appeared to have difficulty gaining altitude shortly after takeoff and crash-landed 50 feet from a home before bursting into flames. Both occupants died.

In a separate accident, two small planes collided in the high desert north of Phoenix near Lake Pleasant Regional Park, killing all four adult occupants, believed to be flight instructors and students. A pilot who witnessed the accident reported the planes collided in midair approximately 15 miles from Phoenix Deer Valley Airport.

Arizona is a popular crossroads for aviation, and it has a high rate of light-plane accidents, collisions and fatalities. Aviation accidents can be caused by many different types of negligence:

  • Mechanical, structural or instrument defects or failure
  • Pilot error
  • Weather conditions, including turbulence
  • Poor or improper maintenance
  • Improper loading
  • Poor traffic control or runway conditions

While the process of investigation will eventually reveal the causes of these two deadly accidents, it will not restore the life of those killed by avoidable errors. If you are injured or suffering loss due to an aviation accident in Arizona, always seek advice from reputable legal counsel.