Whitefish Man Killed in Plane Crash at Hungry Horse

By Beacon Staff

A Whitefish veterinarian was killed in the crash of a single-engine aircraft on the ice of Hungry Horse Reservoir in northwestern Montana.

Flathead County Undersheriff Pete Wingert on Thursday identified the victim as Hugh A. Rogers, 50, who owned the Alpine Animal Hospital in Whitefish.

Flathead County searchers found the wreckage at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday on the reservoir ice about 35 miles southeast of Hungry Horse Dam.

Officials with the state Aeronautics Division said the search began after a satellite picked up an emergency locator beacon near the reservoir around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.

Strong winds, snow and poor visibility hampered the search for the plane.

Four search and rescue members stayed overnight with the body of the victim, which officials said would be taken to the Montana Crime Lab in Missoula for an autopsy.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the plane was a Maule M-4 built in 1967 and an FAA Web site showed it was registered to Rogers.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, said Jeanne MacPherson with the state Aeronautics Division.

MacPherson said she did not believe Rogers made a distress call.

Wednesday’s crash was the third fatal airplane crash in Montana in just over two weeks.

Sparky Imeson of Helena was killed when his Cessna 180 crashed near Canyon Ferry Lake on March 17. And 14 people were killed when their Pilatus PC-12 crashed near Bert Mooney Airport in Butte on March 22. The plane carried three young families from California, including seven children under the age of 10, who were traveling to Montana for a ski vacation.