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Names, tower traffic released in I-15 plane crash near Riverdale

Layne and Diana Clarke (Photo: Courtesy family)

(KUTV) Moments before a plane erupted in a fireball in the median of Interstate 15 near Riverdale, Utah, Kathy Johnson heard the aircraft fly over her office building, right next to the freeway.

"This just had a different sound, with the engine sputtering," she said, only to feel the earth move moments later. "And it shook the building. We all jumped up, and looked out the window, and everything was on fire."

Randy Poulsen was in his truck near the interstate.

"There was a vertical drop, it went straight down," he said. "The people inside the plane had no chance, dropping that fast and that hard. I was ready to jump the fence to see if I could help, but it was such a boiling flame of fire, I couldn't even get close to it."

Late Wednesday, the Utah Highway Patrol released names of the deceased, two couples who are said to have extensive family ties in the area.

The pilot was identified as 48-year-old Layne Clarke of Taylor, Utah, a small community in Weber County. Also killed were his wife, Diana Clarke, 46, and Perry and Sarah Huffaker, 45 and 42, of West Haven, Utah.

Layne Clarke's brother Corry Clarke was killed in a crash near the same airport in 2002.

They had taken off in a single-engine Bonanza from Ogden Hinckley Airport, on their way to Island Park, Idaho.

"Ogden tower, this is 6-0 Whiskey Bravo on runway 1-7. Ready for takeoff," the pilot radioed to the tower. "I'd like to alter my plans and head out west, northwest to get above these clouds. Zero 2 Bravo."

The tower responded with more instructions.

"Still need you to you to make a left downwind departure now," said the controller. "And runway 1-7 cleared for takeoff."

"Alright, 1-7 cleared for takeoff, left downwind at Zero 2 Bravo," replied pilot Clarke.

In two minutes or under, the plane was airborne, but in serious trouble.

"Hey. I'm going down," said the pilot. Zero Whiskey Bravo. Zero-Whiskey..."

The air traffic controller knew instantly what happened.

"I just heard him go down," he said. "He just hit the highway there. Oh s---."

Emergency crews were dispatched, and firefighters put out the blaze.

Poulsen said the pilot seemed to bank in search of a clear place to land -- maybe the airport, maybe a field -- but the plane gave out, and went no further than the middle of the freeway.

"It's sad," said Poulsen. "It's unfortunate. Godspeed to the people who lost their lives."

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