Canyonville crash probe starts; plane was registered to Roseburg-area couple

Investigators arrived today to start searching for the cause of a plane crash that killed two people near Canyonville on Sunday morning.

The single-engine plane reportedly went nose-first into Canyon Mountain. Smoke from the fire that ignited at the crash scene could be seen from Interstate 5.

The names of those on board have not been released. The 1955 Piper PA-22 plane was registered to Ernie and Elaina Knigge of Melrose, said Mike Fergus, regional spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ernie Knigge’s nephew, JD Knigge, who lives on the couple’s ranch, told the News-Review newspaper of Roseburg today that he does not know if his aunt and uncle were on the plane. He said the couple planned to fly to Grants Pass on Sunday.

“They left in the morning time and they haven’t returned,” he said.

Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were at scene today. The NTSB is in charge of the investigation that could take months to complete.

Fergus said no flight plan was submitted and the FAA did not provide air traffic control, so officials are uncertain from where the plane departed and where it was headed.

Dave Larson, incident commander for the Douglas Forest Protective Association, said the plane was ablaze when he arrived about an hour after the crash. He described the site as a steep, rugged area in a stand of old-growth trees.

“Pretty much the plane was destroyed,” he said.

— The Associated Press

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