One dead after two small planes collide near Wilsonville

One dead after two small planes collide near Wilsonville

NEAR WILSONVILLE, Ore. – One person was killed after two small planes collided midair near Wilsonville Tuesday afternoon, according to the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office.

One plane made an emergency landing in Champoeg State Park and the two people onboard sustained minor injuries. The other plane crashed in a heavily-wooded area just north of the park and across the Willamette River. It crashed in the 35000 block of Wilsonville Road.

The collision happened just after 4 p.m.

The plane in Champoeg landed in a field. It has been identified as a 1978 Piper Seminole. It holds up to four people and is owned by Hillsboro Aviation.

Officials think the plane that crashed north of the river can carry four to six people; however, it is unknown how many people were on the plane when it crashed.

One body was recovered and officials say they have information that a person may have been picked up earlier in the day. That person still hadn't been heard from late Tuesday night.

"We can say for certain we’ve uncovered one set of remains," said Capt. Ken Summers with the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office. "There's conflicting information about whether they may have been together in that plane. So we're really working hard tonight to see if there’s a second set of remains here."

He said when the plane crashed there was a huge explosion and fireball that "consumed the bulk of the airplane."

Emergency crews have blocked off a six-mile stretch of Wilsonville Road while they investigate the crash and Champoeg State Park has been closed.

Robert Nelson, who lives in the blocked off area, said by phone the crash was "just a big shaking. (It) rattled the dishes in the cupboard and pictures on the wall."

He said at first he thought it was an earthquake.

Debris from the collision was seen on both sides of the river. According to officials, there are three known debris fields. Some of the debris fell around 20 campsites at the park occupied by about 50 to 60 people. No one was hit by the debris; however, a piece did hit a truck, causing minor damage.

Several people saw the planes collide.

"It was like a pop. A collide, two things coming together," said Tom Wright, who was visiting the park. "I turned around and saw a whole bunch of debris up in the sky. One of the planes came apart."

Bill Smith, who lives near where the plane landed in the park, said he went to check out reports that a plane had landed there.

He saw the two people who were in the plane walking around and talking to rescuers.

"I would have been pure white," he said. "They weren't as shook up as I thought they would be, but very lucky. (It was) amazing that pilot kept that plane upright (when it landed). He said he didn’t have control of the plane."

It is not known at this time where the planes took off from.

The FAA is investigating.

Champoeg State Park is one of the most popular campgrounds in Oregon because of its proximity to Portland. It is also a historical site that draws tourists. During the summer months, the campground fills up quickly. It is unknown how many people are staying there this week.

KATU News reporters Meghan Kalkstein and Anita Kissée contributed to this report.