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Former Baseball Pro Among Four Killed In Utah County Plane Crash

UTAH COUNTY, Utah – A former professional baseball player was among the four people who were killed when a small plane crashed in the mountains north of Alpine.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said the plane crashed Friday morning in the Box Elder Peak area, near American Fork Canyon.

“It was right in the beautiful part of the morning,” said Gregg Rawlings, who was hiking to Box Elder Peak with his two sons when he saw the plane rocking back and forth.

“We could tell it wasn’t high enough to make it over the mountain range,” he said. “Moments later you heard the impact in the canyon, just crunch.”

The small aircraft spiraled to the ground out of sight and the thought came to Rawlings, “We need to do something.”

He and his sons hiked up in search of cell service and called dispatch.

“We told them what had happened but did not feel good about moving,” he said. So they hiked down to search for the crash site, knowing all along it couldn’t have ended well.

“From the moment it happened and what we were trying to decide to do, I just turned to my boys and I said, ‘you know, that’s someone’s family,’” he said. “We need to go see what we can do to help.”

Officials with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said four people were on board: Alex Ruegner, 35, and his aunt and uncle Elaine and Douglas Blackhurst, 60 and 62, who were from Riverton.

The pilot was Tyson Brummett, 35, a former professional baseball player who talked to KSL recently about his effort to help transport goggles for doctors treating COVID-19.

When Rawlings and his sons found the plane minutes later, their fears were realized.

“We just kept calling to see if there was any response coming from the airplane and there was not. Once we got closer it was evident there were no survivors,” he said.

After gathering the coordinates of the site and as much information as they could, they raced back up the mountain to pass on all of the information to dispatch. Minutes later, a search and rescue plane had arrived.

Within about an hour of the crash, first responders were on the ground, thanks to the determination of a few hikers.

“That was kind of the whole drive. To see what we can do to help, because someone is going to be worrying about them,” Rawlings said. “What we knew we had done, we did the best we could. We couldn’t have changed anything in that incident, but we were able to change how quickly search and rescue was able to find them.”

The bodies of all four victims were recovered and taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Taylorsville.

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