Weekend plane crash kills Liberty man, Pickens teen

PAGE, Ariz.. — A Pickens High School student and a Liberty man lost their lives in a plane crash in Arizona over the weekend.

According to their families, the victims were pilot Charles Michael Trotter, 47, and Dakota Jacks, 15.

Trotter and Jacks were headed home from a sightseeing trip when the plane crashed, according to reports.

Authorities said the plane left Las Vegas sometime early Friday, landed in Page, Ariz., and then left Page at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time headed for South Carolina before being reported missing Saturday.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) found Trotter’s cellphone last contacted a tower shortly after takeoff. Officials contacted the Civil Air Patrol Wings from several states, who launched a multi-state search on Sunday morning.

The search included authorities from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

At around 1:40 p.m. Sunday, searchers spotted the wreckage of the 1961 Mooney M20B aircraft in a remote desert area called Peach Canyon, according to officials.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter transported sheriff’s detectives to the scene of the crash around 5 p.m., where they recovered the bodies.

The cause of the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Trotter’s family issued a statement Monday.

“Charles Michael Trotter, 47 years old, died doing what he loves — flying his plane,” the statement read, calling Trotter a “devoted husband” who “loved his wife, loved flying and loved Jesus.

“Now he is at home with his Lord and Savior. May he rest in peace.”

Jacks was a rising 10th grader at Pickens High School. School District of Pickens County spokesman John Eby said officials were “stunned and saddened” to learn of Jacks’ death.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Dakota’s family, friends and teachers,” Eby said. “He was an honors student, a Pickens High School JROTC cadet and a part of the school’s bluegrass music group. Dakota was an outstanding member of the Blue Flame family, and he will be greatly missed.”