FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Four people who died in a northern Arizona plane crash
had planned to eat lunch and sight-see in Sedona before their plane went down in
a remote canyon, the pilot’s father told The Associated Press.
Jonathan McGeary, 22, of Flagstaff was flying the single-engine Cessna when it
crashed Sunday and sparked a small fire, Dennis McGeary said Wednesday. The
National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause.
Dennis McGeary said the passengers were Levi Wallace, 23, of Prescott, Johanna Naber, 18, of Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, Canada, and woman
from Canada and Sabrina Giebelen, 19, from Krefeld, Germany.
He said the four met through Christian youth camps and stayed at his Flagstaff
home over the weekend. He said they were vibrant, full of promise and deeply
devoted to God.
“For us, God took those children home,” he said.
Jonathan McGeary, 22, earned his private pilot’s certificate in 2011, Federal
Aviation Administration records show. He was home-schooled in Flagstaff and had
dreams of becoming a commercial or helicopter pilot but was working as a heavy
equipment operator in town, his father said.
Wallace was looking forward to becoming a physical therapist this fall after
completing schooling in Tucson, Dennis McGeary said. The two families were
close friends, he said.
The four on the plane had talked about visiting the Grand Canyon before
settling on Sedona, McGeary said. They had attended a church service earlier
Sunday in Flagstaff.
The plane crashed around 3 p.m. Hikers reported seeing a low-flying plane go
over a ridge and disappear, followed by the sound of a crash and smoke rising
from the canyon, Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said.
Authorities have not released the identities of the four on board.
Investigators were expected to recover the wreckage Wednesday, but a
determination on what exactly happened could take months, NTSB spokesman Keith
Holloway said. The investigation will include a review of maintenance records,
log books, medical certifications and the flight history of the pilot. A
preliminary report is expected by next week, he said.
Dennis McGeary said one of his son’s friends heard about the crash on the
radio and called Jonathan’s younger brother to tell him the news. McGeary said
he had hoped it wasn’t his son’s plane.
“Then I thought for a moment, `would you want it to be someone else’s?’ and I
thought `no,”’ he said, adding that he was “very sorry for the other
McGeary said he has spoken to the other families and none gave any indication
that they believed the crash was his son’s fault.
“I was so impressed with how gracious they were, being the father of the
pilot, and Levi’s father’s response to me was that God doesn’t make mistakes,”
he said. “There’s just no question that the other parents and children believed
it with all their heart.”