Funeral pays tribute to North Dakota lawmaker and family lost in Utah plane crash

Oct 10, 2023, 2:35 PM

white plane in pieces on dry brown terrain...

The wreckage of a plane crash that killed a North Dakota family as seen from the air in KSL TV's Chopper 5. (Chopper 5)

(Chopper 5)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Mourners gathered at a red-brick church in North Dakota on Tuesday for the funeral of a state lawmaker and his family who were killed in a plane crash last week, describing a selfless couple whose young boys inspired people around them.

State Sen. Doug Larsen, his wife Amy and their two sons, 11-year-old Christian and 8-year-old Everett, died on Oct. 1. Their single-engine aircraft went down near Moab, Utah, shortly after stopping to refuel on the way home from a family gathering in Arizona.

The plane was piloted by Larsen, 47, who flew Black Hawk helicopters and mobilized twice during his 29 years with the North Dakota Army National Guard. A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash is expected sometime next week.

Four Black Hawk helicopters in missing-man formation flew through a cloudless autumn sky as the family was laid to rest at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.

During the earlier church service, mourners sang “How Great Thou Art” as the four caskets were wheeled to the front of the sanctuary. A military honor guard escorted Doug Larsen’s flag-draped coffin.

His sister, Rebecca Hoglund, said Doug “wanted to help out where he could” — whether it was a fellow American stranded in France who he met backpacking in the 1990s, or a tiny kitten on the side of the road.

“He was by my side for some of my hardest times in life,” she said, “for major surgeries, to the death of a child, to my career changes and my house flooding, and the list goes on and on.”

Chantel Southam said her sister Amy was an empathetic and patient addiction counselor who made a difference for children, including Chantel’s niece.

“She just could walk in people’s shoes,” Southam said. Amy is survived by her adult son Dylan Stevens, who was listed as a casket bearer.

North Dakota state senator, wife and 2 kids killed after small plane crashes north of Moab airport

Teacher Marleigh Buechler called Christian “an extraordinary student and person” who gave 110% to his relationships, academics and friendly competitions.

“I admired the way that at such a young age, he was able to appreciate the differences in people. He would often discuss with me and our class that if we were all the same, the world would be a boring place,” Buechler said.

Everett’s speech pathologist, Anne Bry, said the 8-year-old had worked hard to overcome childhood apraxia of speech, going from not speaking at age 3 to speaking in good sentences as he entered kindergarten — “confidence to speak” because of his parents’ support.

“He was the most amazing, sweetest little boy who fought so hard in his life to speak, and by golly we did it,” Bry said.

Larsen, a Republican, was elected to the North Dakota Senate in 2020. He chaired a Senate panel that handled industry- and business-related legislation.

Doug and Amy Larsen owned businesses that included a hotel and a company that builds homes. Larsen had recently earned his commercial pilot’s license, with hopes of one day flying for a major airline, state Sen. Jim Roers told The Associated Press.

A lieutenant colonel, Larsen was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star and Army Aviator Badge, among other honors. He logged about 1,776 total military flight hours, according to a Guard spokesperson.

Federal Aviation Administration records show that Larsen’s Piper PA-28-140, popularly known as a “Cherokee,” was built in 1966. Its airworthiness certificate was renewed in June through 2030, indicating it had passed a safety inspection. The weather at the time of the crash was mild, with scattered light showers, wide visibility and gentle winds in the area around the airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Mourners have left flowers on Larsen’s Senate desk at the state Capitol since the crash. Fellow lawmakers gathering for routine meetings at the Capitol have also observed moments of silence for the Larsens and offered remembrances. Dozens of state lawmakers attended the funeral.

District Republicans will appoint a successor to fill the remainder of Larsen’s term, through November 2024. His Senate seat is on the ballot next year. Larsen represented a district that encompassed Mandan, the city across the Missouri River from Bismarck.

A large photo of the Larsen family will be placed in the Senate chambers through the 2025 legislative session, said Senate Republican Caucus Leader Kristin Roers. Larsen’s Senate desk will be kept empty during an expected, upcoming session of the Legislature, and his appointed successor will sit elsewhere, she said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Accidents & Injuries

Lowell Ward in the hospital after the accident (Courtesy: Katherine Ward)...

Brianna Chavez

Cache County family thankful for driver who helped son after he was hit by car

A Cache County family is encouraging drivers to stay cautious on the roads and learn from their experience after their 13-year-old son was hit by a car.

3 hours ago

Video showing Viviana being hit by the car....

Garna Mejia

Millcreek family searches for person who hit them on crosswalk and drove away

Unified Police are looking for the suspect in a hit-and-run accident that left two children injured earlier this month.

1 day ago

Northbound blue line TRAX train involved...

Carlysle Price

South Salt Lake man pronounced dead after TRAX incident

A man was transported in critical condition Thursday night after he was struck by a Northbound TRAX train as it left the Millcreek station. 

1 day ago

A Utah Highway Patrol emblem is pictured as shown on the side of a UHP vehicle. (Utah Highway Patro...

Mark Jones

One person dead in I-80 crash involving 2 semitrucks

The Utah Highway Patrol says one person has died following a crash on eastbound Interstate 80, involving two semitrucks. 

2 days ago

West Valley City police car...

Pat Reavy,

West Valley police to target drivers who run red lights

In the aftermath of a number of serious accidents, West Valley City police and UDOT launched a new campaign this week called "Stop on Red."

2 days ago

Pictures from the scene of a vehicle fire that temporarily blocked multiple lanes of I-15 near Leed...

Alexander Campbell

Southern Utah crash partially closes Interstate 15 near Leeds

A crash on Northbound Interstate 15 one mile north of Leeds has closed two right lanes.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Funeral pays tribute to North Dakota lawmaker and family lost in Utah plane crash