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Sheriff identifies Idaho husband and wife killed in crash of small plane that hit wire atop BPA power line SE of Madras

Piper Saratoga crashed near Madras FlightAware
Courtesy FlightAware (
The Piper Saratoga that crashed SE of Madras on Sunday
BPA transmission line John Day-Grizzly No. 1
Bonneville Power Administration
Bonneville Power Administration says small plane crashed after apparently striking 'static wire' above its John Day-Grizzly No. 1 transmission line on Sunday.

(Update: FAA records show pilot's medical certificate had lapsed)

Plane apparently struck, knocked down 'static wire' that carries no power, BPA says

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – After several days spent notifying family members, Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock late Thursday released the names of an Idaho couple killed Sunday when their small plane traveling from an airport south of Portland to Idaho crashed southeast of Madras.

Pollock said David Hagerty, 69, and his wife, Venita Hagerty, 63, of Caldwell Idaho, were the only people aboard Hagerty's Piper PA-32 when struck a wire atop a 500-kilovolt power line and crashed Sunday afternoon in a remote area about five miles southeast of Madras.

Frontier Regional 911 dispatchers received the report of a plane crash around 7:40 p.m. Sunday and first responders including Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies, Fire & EMS and Madras Police were immediately dispatched.

It took some time to reach the remote crash site, 5 1/2 miles southeast of Madras and south of the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution.

During the initial investigation, deputies were able to determine the plane left Aurora State Airport en route to Idaho, Sheriff Jason Pollock said.

“Due to the extent of the crash, there were no survivors,” the sheriff said in an online posting early Monday.

Later Monday, Pollock confirmed that there were "two souls lost in the crash. I can't say who yet, because we are struggling with making contact with family." Monday night, he confirmed they were a husband and wife from Caldwell, Idaho.

An initial Federal Aviation Administration report indicated the plane, a Piper PA-32, also known as a Cherokee Six, was destroyed.

The FAA registration for the plane shows it was manufactured in 1965, issued its latest airworthiness certificate in February of 2023 and registered to David Hagerty.

The FAA requires pilots to regularly update their medical certificates. FAA records show Hagerty, the pilot of the downed plane, held a third-class medical certificate which was last issued in 2017 and under the regulations expired at the end of March 2019.

The sheriff said the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA will conduct “a lengthy investigation” into the cause of the crash.

The NTSB said its investigator arrived at the crash site Monday afternoon to begin documenting of the plane. An agency spokesman said the wreckage will then be moved to a secure facility for further evaluation.

A transmission line outage began shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday, BPA Media Relations Specialist Kevin Wingert said. A few minutes later, after the line “tested bad and would not reclose,” BPA scrambled a crew to patrol the line, find the source of the outage and repair it, if possible.

Around 6 p.m., that crew located a downed “static wire” southeast of Madras and began assessing what material might be needed for repairs, Wingert said. Those repairs were completed and the line restored to service at 3:25 p.m. Monday.

Wingert explained that static wires run from one the top of one transmission tower to another, to protect transmission lines from potential lightning strikes, but they don’t carry any power themselves.

“The static wire, when cut, fell into our transmission lines, resulting in the actual outage,” Wingert said.

Once the problem was found, repair work was scheduled for Monday, since the power had been rerouted and the outage was not affecting any customers directly.

Around 7:30 p.m., as the crew left the area, “they saw off in the distance what appeared to be a downed aircraft that apparently had struck the static wire,” the BPA representative said. “Our crew immediately contacted emergency services and backed out of the area to allow emergency responders to do their work.”

The height of the transmission line towers varies, based on terrain, Wingert said, but they are generally about 100 feet tall, meaning the static wire that was struck likely would have been about 60 to 100 feet in elevation.

The transmission line outage did not lead to any customer outages, Wingert said. The BPA line segment runs between the John Day Dam and the Grizzly Substation, south-southeast of Madras.

“Our electric grid is pretty robust, and we’ve been able to reroute power without impacts on our utilities whom we provide service,” he explained.

More information from the NTSB:

NTSB investigations involve three primary areas: the pilot, the aircraft and the operating environment. As part of this process, investigators will gather the following information and records:

  • Flight track data
  • Recordings of any air traffic control communications
  • Aircraft maintenance records
  • Weather forecasts and actual weather and lighting conditions around the time of the accident
  • Pilot’s license, ratings and recency of flight experience
  • 72-hour background of the pilot to determine if there were any issues that could have affected the pilot’s ability to safety operate the flight
  • Witness statements
  • Electronic devices that could contain information relevant to the investigation
  • Any available surveillance video, including from doorbell cameras

Witnesses to the accident or those who have surveillance video or other information that could be relevant to the investigation are asked to contact the NTSB at

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson County

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Barney Lerten

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