One Year After Butte Plane Crash, Cause Undetermined

By Beacon Staff

BUTTE – One year after an airplane crashed into a Butte cemetery and killed all 14 people on board, including seven children from three California families, the cause remains under investigation and the families of the victims are still trying to heal.

“You’re always kind of reaching for them,” said Paul Jacobson, whose brother, Erin Jacobson and his family were killed in the March 22, 2009, crash. “Our lives are not complete without them.”

Family members planned to gather in Butte Monday at Holy Cross Cemetery to mark the one-year anniversary.

Those killed: Erin Jacobson, 36, of St. Helena, Calif., his wife, Amy Jacobson, 34, and their children, Taylor, 4, Ava, 3, and Jude, almost 2; Michael Pullen, 39, and his wife, Vanessa Pullen, 37, of Lodi, Calif., and their children, Sydney, 9, and Christopher, 7; Brent Ching, 37, and his wife, Kristen Ching, 31, of Durham, Calif., and their children, Heyley, 5, and Caleb, almost 4; and Bud Summerfield, 65, the pilot

The families were traveling from California to Montana for a ski vacation.

Bud Feldkamp, who lost two daughters — Amy Jacobson and Vanessa Pullen — and five grandchildren in the crash, said Monday’s gathering at the cemetery is part of the healing process.

“It’s a common place where they all were,” he said. “These are all three distinct, different families. It’s a chance that we can all get together and share our memories and companionship. That is a healing exercise in itself.”

Maggie Cotton, Feldkamp’s daughter, said she has found little comfort in the year that has passed.

“It seems I miss them more and more, because time goes and events go on, but they’re not here to be part of them with us,” she said. “In some ways it is better and in some ways it’s more sinking in.”