NEAR PAYSON, Ariz. - Officials with the Gila County Sheriffs's Office say a person is dead, and two people were taken to Valley hospitals following a small plane crash that happened Friday afternoon.
According to a statement released on the department's Facebook page, deputies received a 911 call at around 3:12 p.m. from a person reporting that a plane had crashed in the Mazatzal Mountains area. Deputies, with help from the Helicopter Ranger with DPS, searched for the crash site.
Three people were on board at the time of the crash, and officials with GCSO identified the man who died as 59-year-old Blaine Mathews of Mesa. The survivors were identified as 29-year-old Spencer Berns and 21-year-old Colten Egbert, both of Mesa.
Mathews leaves behind his wife, children and grandchildren. He is remembered as a big family man who would help others in need.
FOX 10 learned from FAA officials that the plane involved in the crash is a Piper P28A. There will be an investigation by FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Crash survivor, Spencer Berns' wife says he has broken bones and an injured spine but is healing up in the hospital.
Shelly Berns says she got a text from Spencer just before 9 a.m. Friday as the group fueled the plane up in Payson. Later that night, she saw video of the wreck on the news.
She says Colten, the pilot, called 911 and Spencer used his Garmin inReach watch to help give dispatch their coordinates via GPS. That's when Gila County Sheriff's deputies and the DPS helicopter ranger helped find the men - airlifting the two to hospitals.
"I'm just kind of numb right now. I don't think it's really hit me yet. My emotions when I got the call that his plane went down, I was a wreck. I'm ready for him to be home out of the hospital and start recovering so we can move past this," she said.
Spencer and Mathews enjoyed spending time together, they'd even go hunting. "There's nothing that you'd ask him that he would ever say no to. He would bend over backward to help anybody," Berns said of Mathews.