1 Killed, 1 Injured in Lake County Plane Crash

Lake County Sheriff's Office releases name of pilot and passenger involved in Tuesday's crash

By Justin Franz

The National Transportation Safety Board has begun investigating a plane crash northwest of Ronan that killed the pilot and injured a passenger on Tuesday afternoon.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a small plane crashing into the side of a hill near Round Butte. The pilot, 33-year-old Brett Thoft of Alaska, was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was taken to Missoula for autopsy. The only passenger aboard the plane, Tim Schauss of Lake County, was airlifted to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. He was in stable condition on Wednesday morning, according to the hospital.

The plane was a two-person tandem Piper aircraft and although the exact flight path is unknown at this time, sources say the plane took off from the Ronan airport just before the crash.

Late Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB were notified of the crash and investigators are coming from Portland, Oregon to begin gathering evidence from the scene. NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway said the investigation will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months but that a preliminary report could be available at the end of this week.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.