NTSB releases eye-witness account of plane crash that killed ‘Ice Road Trucker’ Darrell Ward

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Updated Oct 2, 2016
The History Channel, which airs “Ice Road Truckers” showed a tribute to Darrell Ward during the episode that followed his death.The History Channel, which airs “Ice Road Truckers” showed a tribute to Darrell Ward during the episode that followed his death.

Federal authorities continue their work investigating the crash of a light plane that killed “Ice Road Truckers” star Darrell Ward and another man in August, saying it may take as long as a year to know the cause of the incident.

Terry Williams, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said Sept. 21 that the agency’s investigation is in its preliminary stages with at least several months of work to be done.

Ward was a passenger in a Cessna 182D that had taken off from Missoula International Airport and crashed about 45 minutes later near the small Rock Creek Airport alongside I-90 in Clinton, Mont.

The NTSB offers this description of the crash, which occurred at about 2:45 p.m. local time on Aug. 28:

“According to a witness who observed the accident, who is also a certified commercial pilot, upon the airplane’s arrival it overflew the airport from east to west, then turned back to the east on an extended right downwind. The witness stated that when the airplane was on final approach it was stable, with the wind being out of the west, ‘… right down runway 25 at about 8 knots.’ The witness further stated that when the airplane was about 40 feet above the runway and preparing to land, it suddenly veered 90 degrees to the right, in what he estimated to be about a 30-degree bank angle. The airplane subsequently collided with a stand of trees that bordered the runway on the north, then impacted the ground before coming to rest upright on the shoulder of an interstate highway. Shortly thereafter, a fire erupted, which consumed the forward two-thirds of the airplane.”

Ward, who was 52, had just appeared at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, where he had made several promotional personal appearances. A post on Ward’s Facebook page said he was about to begin work on a new television show about recovering plane wrecks.

The single-engine Cessna was piloted by Mark Melotz, 56, who also died in the crash.

The full preliminary report from NTSB can be seen here.

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