A tragic accident
A North Dakota state senator, his wife and their two young children died in a plane crash as they were traveling through Utah on Sunday night, officials announced Monday. State Sen. Doug Larsen was piloting a plane as he traveled with his wife, Amy, and two of their sons in Grand County, Utah, when their aircraft crashed, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The sheriff’s office said they got a call around 8:30 p.m. about a single plane “taking off from the Canyonlands Regional Airport and then crashing into the ground.” Emergency responders found the plane in a remote area bordering the airport, which is just outside Arches National Park near the Colorado state line.
“Tragically, the pilot of the plane, North Dakota State Senator Douglas Larsen, his wife Amy Larsen, and their two youngest children did not survive the crash,” the news release said. Larsen’s biography on the state’s website said he was married and had three children.
A dedicated public servant
Larsen, a Republican, represented District 34 in the state, which includes the city of Mandan. He’d been in the state senate since 2021, according to his biography. He was also a lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard who committed himself fully to each of his roles with an unwavering sense of honor and duty, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said in a news release.
“As a legislator, he was a tenacious advocate for individual rights and the freedoms he defended through his military service,” Burgum said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family and friends and join his legislative colleagues, National Guard brothers and sisters and the Mandan community in mourning the tragic passing of Sen. Larsen and his family.”
Larsen served on several committees in the state senate, including the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. He was also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that promotes model legislation on various issues.
A loving family man
Larsen’s family was his pride and joy, according to his social media posts and friends. He often shared photos and videos of his wife and children, showing their adventures and achievements. He was especially proud of his eldest son, who recently graduated from high school and joined the Air Force.
Larsen’s wife, Amy, was a registered nurse who worked at a local hospital. She was also a devoted mother who supported her children’s education and extracurricular activities. She was involved in the Mandan Parent Teacher Organization and the Mandan Hockey Club.
Larsen’s two youngest sons, who died in the crash, were 12 and 10 years old. They attended Mandan Middle School and Lewis and Clark Elementary School, respectively. They were both active in sports, especially hockey and baseball. They also enjoyed camping, fishing, and hunting with their father.
An ongoing investigation
The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The sheriff’s office said there was no indication of foul play or mechanical failure. The weather conditions at the time of the crash were clear and calm, according to the National Weather Service.
The sheriff’s office also said they were working with the North Dakota National Guard to provide assistance and support to the Larsen family and their relatives. A memorial service for the Larsen family is being planned by their church and community.