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Cheney: We Can’t Leave Violence Of Capitol Attack Uninvestigated

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The American people deserve to know what happened during the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

The congressional committee the attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this year held its first hearing on Tuesday with testimony from four officers who responded to the insurrection.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the members of the committee, began the hearing by thanking the witnesses for testifying about the attack that left multiple people dead and discussing why the investigation is so important.

“We cannot leave the violence of Jan. 6 – and its causes – uninvestigated,” she said Tuesday. “The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for Jan. 6.”

Five people died during the incident, which saw armed individuals force their way into the Capitol while electoral votes from November’s general election were being certified.

“We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House, every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack.” Cheney said. “Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another Jan. 6 every four years.”

She added the investigation should be non-partisan and noted that every person on the committee has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Cheney has been vocal in condemning the attack on the Capitol, even voting to impeach former President Donald Trump over allegations he incited the action with his comments shortly before the incident.

“America is great because we preserve our democratic institutions at all costs,” she concluded on Tuesday.
“Until Jan. 6, we were proof positive for the world that a nation conceived in liberty could long endure. But now, Jan. 6 threatens our most sacred legacy.”

Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump and her support for the investigative committee has resulted in criticism of the representative and she was voted out of her position as House Republican Conference chair in May.

Cheney was one of only two House Republicans to vote for establishing the select committee earlier this month.

In early July, U.S. Representatives voted 220-190 to create the special House committee after the U.S. Senate blocked legislation that would have created an outside, independent, bipartisan review commission to look into the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

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Person Run Over, Killed At Cheyenne’s Frontier Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A person was run over and killed Tuesday at the park where Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is held.

The Cheyenne Police Department said the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and happened when a male passenger was attempting to exit the bed of a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The vehicle’s driver entered Gate V12 from the Hynds Street and slowed to a stop with the flow of traffic.

As the truck was stopped, the male passenger began to exit the truck bed, lost his footing and fell to the ground.

The driver moved forward with traffic, running over the passenger.

The victim suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver remained on scene to assist officers with the investigation.

The gate will remain closed on Tuesday as officers continue to investigate the incident.

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City Of Cheyenne Offering Extra Vacation Hours To Employees Who Get Vaccinated

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The City of Cheyenne is offering to trade vacation hours for vaccinations.

City officials have adopted new vaccination incentive program, giving employees who get vaccinated against the coronavirus extra vacation hours.

City spokesman Michael Skinner told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the program just began on Monday.

“The City is offering extra vacation hours, or added payroll hours for (part-time) and seasonal employees, who are fully vaccinated by Oct. 31,” Skinner said.

He added he hadn’t heard any feedback yet about the program, due to both the short timeline and the fact Cheyenne Frontier Days is in full swing.

This vaccine incentive program is not unlike others implemented across the state, such as the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department offering free Cheyenne Frontier Days concert tickets to people who got vaccinated or the University of Wyoming providing an additional personal day off for employees who were vaccinated.

Along with other incentives, the state of Colorado gave out $1 million to five residents who got vaccinated.

Wyoming has not implemented such a statewide program, although less than 33% of its residents are fully vaccinated.

Banner Health, a health care system that operates clinics and hospitals in Wyoming and other western states, announced last week that its employees would be required to get the vaccine to keep their jobs.

As of Monday, Laramie County had 189 active coronavirus cases and 34.6% of the county’s population had been vaccinated against the virus.

Laramie County also had the most Delta variant cases of the virus, with 179 of the state’s 255 cases, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

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Former Sen. Enzi Dies Following Bike Accident

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi has died following a serious bike accident Friday.

Enzi died while surrounded by his family at the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. He was 77.

A social media post from Enzi’s account said he never regained consciousness after being transported by air ambulance from Gillette.

“His family expressed their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern that has been shown. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time,” the post said. “The family is planning to hold a celebration of a life well-lived, with details being shared at a later date.”

Enzi’s son Brad Enzi posted a message on Twitter over the weekend announcing his father had been injured in the bicycle wreck and taken by air ambulance to a Colorado hospital.

“One of the best basketball fans in the country needs giant prayers tonight after a bike wreck and life flight (Friday) night,” the Twitter message said. “Also happens to be my GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Dad. Any and all prayers and thoughts accepted no denomination or creed preferred. Just lift him up!”

Brad Enzi posted a follow-up message on Monday night, thanking people for their prayers and support.

“Thanks to all who prayed and sent good thoughts for my dad. Always my GOAT and hero!” Brad Enzi wrote on Twitter.

Enzi served four terms in the U.S. Senate representing Wyoming, winning his first election in 1996 and serving through 2020. Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis was elected as his successor after he announced his retirement from Congress.

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, he served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991. He also served as the mayor of Gillette from 1974 until 1982.

Enzi was born in Washington state and grew up in Thermopolis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from George Washington University in 1966 and in 1967, he enlisted in the Wyoming Air National Guard, where he served until 1973.

He obtained his master’s in business administration from the University of Denver in 1968, when he moved to Gillette and opened NZ Shoes.

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State Officials Join Delegation In Mourning Enzi’s Death

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

State officials around Wyoming mourned the death of former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi on Tuesday, remembering him as someone who always worked for Wyoming.

Gov. Mark Gordon, who ordered all American and Wyoming flags flown at half-staff Tuesday in Enzi’s honor, remembered the four-term U.S. senator as a dedicated public servant.

“Mike was a friend and a dedicated public servant who cared deeply about Wyoming and its people,” he said. “His leadership in the Senate was tireless and productive. He was a strong advocate for the state’s interests and was always committed to finding consensus where possible. He understood what is important for America.”

Enzi, 77, died late Monday after suffering serious injuries in a bicycle wreck in Gillette on Friday. According to a post on his Facebook page, he never regained consciousness after being taken by air ambulance to the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado.

Secretary of State Ed Buchanan referred to Enzi as a quiet but effective legislator.

“I met Senator Enzi while a volunteer in the (1996) campaign,” Buchanan said. “He was the epitome of grace in a business often filled with vitriol and hyperbole. He was understated, but effective. He listened more and talked less. In essence, he was a statesman that represented Wyoming well for 24 years in the U.S. Senate.”

Other state officials also expressed sorrow at Enzi’s death, including state Sens. Tara Nethercott and Anthony Bouchard, both R-Cheyenne, and Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower and state Rep. Charles Gray, R-Casper.

“While we mourn Senator Enzi’s passing, we are eternally grateful for his distinguished service to Wyoming and our nation, his advocacy and love for all things Wyoming, and the incredible example he set for us all as a true statesman and committed public servant,” Nethercott wrote on her Facebook page.

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Congressional Colleagues Praise Enzi’s Service

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi was a tireless worker on behalf of Wyoming’s interests in Congress and in Wyoming’s Legislature, other elected officials said Tuesday.

Enzi, 77, died late Monday after suffering serious injuries in a bicycle accident in Gillette on Friday.

Enzi served as a U.S. Senator for four terms and was replaced by U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis after his retirement in 2021.

Lummis, who served as a member of the U.S. House for nine years while Enzi was a senator, recalled Enzi as someone who could work with both parties to accomplish important work.

“He was a soft-spoken leader, but the legislative wins he delivered loudly attest to the impact of his service,” she said. “At a time of increasing political incivility, Mike Enzi managed to tactfully navigate the upper chamber, producing results that will be felt for generations to come.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who served with Enzi in the Senate for 13 years, described Enzi as “one of the most consequential public servants of our time.”

“Whether he was serving as mayor of Gillette, in the Wyoming Legislature or in the U.S. Senate, you could not have asked for a stronger champion for Wyoming and our country than Mike Enzi,” he said. 

Barrasso, who lost his first bid for the Senate to Enzi in 1996 before being appointed to the seat left open with the death of Sen. Craig Thomas in 2007, reflected on Enzi’s reputation as someone who was able to solve problems in Congress.

“Mike was a problem solver through and through,” he said. “More than 100 Enzi bills were signed into law by four U.S. presidents. Many passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. As the first accountant to chair the Senate Budget Committee, Mike secured a legacy of cutting wasteful spending and making government more accountable to American taxpayers.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, whose first campaign for federal office was a campaign against Enzi in 2014, remembered the Republican as a mentor and teacher who was always guided by principle.

“Mike was a straight-shooter, an honest broker, and a soft-spoken but powerful advocate for the causes he cared deeply about,” she said. “Whether it was pushing for fiscal discipline as head of the Senate Budget Committee or fighting for the needs of Wyoming’s energy industry, Mike was always guided by principle and conviction.”

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148 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming Monday; 286 Recoveries, 716 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 86 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that between Friday and Monday, the department received reports of 286 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 148 new laboratory-confirmed and 52 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 716 active cases. 

Laramie County had the highest number of active cases at 189 Sweetwater had 57; Uinta 50; Campbell 48; Converse 47; Fremont 46; Natrona 45; Teton 41; Albany 29; Carbon 25; Park 19; Platte 18; Goshen and Lincoln 17; Sublette 14; Big Horn 13; Sheridan 11; Weston 10; Washakie nine; Johnson five; Hot Springs three; Niobrara two, while Crook had one. 

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, 2020, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The new confirmed and probable cases brought to 64,451 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. 

Of those, 62,969 have recovered.

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Yellowstone Says It’s Too Hot To Fish

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s too hot – even for the fish.

Due to high water temperatures and unprecedented low stream flows, anglers headed to Yellowstone National Park’s rivers and streams won’t be able to fish in the afternoon and evening.

The National Park Service released the closure notice on Friday, saying that the restrictions will protect the park’s native and wild trout fisheries.

Water temperatures have exceeded 68 degrees in recent days, according to park biologists, and flows on many rivers are approaching historic lows. Officials say these conditions are extremely stressful, and can be fatal to fish.

The extended forecast calls for continued hot and dry conditions with a slight chance of isolated afternoon thunderstorms, which contribute to continued low stream flows and high-water temperatures.

There is no indication when the closure might be lifted.

So until further notice, fishing on rivers and streams will be prohibited from 2 p.m. to sunrise the following day.

Anglers will be allowed to fish those areas from sunrise to 2 p.m. daily.

This does not mean all fishing is off limits in the later part of the day. Yellowstone Lake and other lakes will remain open to fishing from sunrise to sunset. 

Officials are urging anglers to fish during the coolest times of day, and land fish quickly; to gently handle fish in the water as much as possible; and to let them recover before release.

This cooperation will protect the park’s fisheries, and biologists note that precautions such as these may ensure that closures like this can be avoided if conditions worsen.

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Daughter Still Searching for Missing Riverton Woman Three Decades Later

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Kelly Pehringer was 14 when her mom Kathleen disappeared from their Riverton home in 1989.

The last time Kelly saw her, Kathleen was standing at the front door in her bathrobe as Kelly headed off to school. 

Today, more than three decades after Kathleen’s disappearance, Kelly continues to seek answers about what happened that day.

For Kelly, that morning marked a new beginning as she woke up resolved to be a better kid. Her actions in recent months had landed Kelly in a group home and she was very happy to once again be home with her mom. 

She’d been acting like a brat, she realized, and had resolved to do better beginning with not fighting Kathleen about going to school.  

They parted on a pleasant note that morning, and after school, Kelly came home with a couple buddies. Oddly, her mom was gone and hadn’t left a note. 

Odder still was the fact that her mother’s normally overflowing ashtray on the coffee table in the living room had been cleaned and was empty — except for two cigarette butts. One she recognized as her mother’s while the other she identified as belonging to her mom’s new friend Donald Pack, based on the way he always “squinched” the filter down to a tiny nub.

Admittedly, Kelly was not a fan of Pack. In fact, he creeped her out ever since he started coming over to see her mother, ostensibly with the excuse of buying her computer.

He was a friend of Kathleen’s ex-boyfriend and began hanging out after the two broke up.

The afternoon that Kathleen disappeared, Pack stopped by looking for Kelly’s mother. He said he’d been over that morning, too, and she wasn’t home then either. He asked if he could come in and use their telephone. 

Kelly reluctantly let him in and watched while he quickly dialed a number and waited a few seconds before hanging up without leaving a message. 

That struck Kelly odd at the time because their phone was “old and crappy” and some of the digits stuck when you tried to press them.

For this reason, it was nearly impossible to make a quick call. And why had he just hung up without saying anything, she wondered?

He left after using the phone. Kelly then went over to a friend’s, leaving her mom a note.

When she came home later that night for dinner, the note was still there and there was no sign of her mother. When Kathleen still hadn’t returned, Kelly called a friend whose mother came and got her, then they called her grandmother who also had not seen Kathleen.

Then they called the police. 

When questioned, Kelly shared her suspicions about Pack having something to do with her mother’s disappearance. It’s not clear from the police report obtained from the Riverton Police Department whether Pack or anyone else was ever questioned in Kathleen’s disappearance.

All that’s on file is a sparsely written report with basic details shared by Kelly about that morning.

Kathleen had not indicated that she had plans of going anywhere, no clothing was taken and her car was still parked in its normal spot behind the house.

According to RPD Captain Wesley Romero, this is the only document still on file from the 32-year-old case. Any detectives who may have worked the case have long since retired and no active members of the staff have any knowledge of Kathleen’s disappearance.

Kelly doesn’t know if Riverton police ever interviewed Pack. She can’t remember much from that time although she recalls she asked the police to contact her brother Frankie, who was in prison, to inform him that their mother was gone. Later, she learned Frankie was told about his mother’s disappearance by a friend.  

What she does remember vividly, however, is the way her entire life was turned upside down.

With her mother gone, Kelly became a ward of the state and was put into foster care after deciding not to go live with her grandparents — who she did not get along with — or her father, who had remarried and started a new family.

Instead, she cycled in and out of foster homes, one worse than the next as she struggled in the wake of her mom’s disappearance. As a senior, she was placed in a girls group home in Lander, where she was able to graduate from high school. Had it not been for that last placement, she’s certain that she never would have made it through school.

“Those four years were living hell,” Kelly said last week from her home in Sheridan, where she now lives with her father as they two continue working to repair their relationship. 

Now in her late 40s, Kelly is sober after years of alcohol and drug abuse. Though she’s attempting to get her life together, the emotional scars continue to haunt her as she struggles with a myriad of psychological issues.

Over the years, she’s turned to a mediums and empaths for insights into what might have happened to her mom. The closest she came was a medium who told her that Kathleen loved her and was proud of her but wanted Kelly to stop looking for her.

Her mother was smiling at her daughter from the other side, the medium told her, which Kelly believes is her mother’s attempt to keep Kelly from knowing the details of what actually happened to her.

Over the years, the Riverton Police Department handed off the case to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, where it remains open. A request to see the case file report was denied by the agency, according to Ronnie Jones, DCI Region 2 operations commander, who said the agency does not comment on open cases.

All Kelly has to go on is what she can remember, including a visit from two female detectives who found her in a treatment facility around 2006, asking to take a sample of her DNA.

They’d apparently searched a property outside of Riverton that could be linked to Pack and had searched the grounds with cadaver dogs. The dogs had repeatedly returned to an area where they’d found a plastic bag buried underground that were testing for Pack and Kathleen’s DNA.

In the end, the bag was too old to recover any DNA, Kelly said.

However, it appears that Pack had been on DCI’s radar, according to a Feb. 2, 2018 article in Jackson Hole News & Guide. As DCI agents searched for evidence in a locker at the Jackson Police Department, they recovered underwear belonging to a rape victim dating back to the late 1970s that tested positive for Pack’s DNA. 

His DNA was by then on file from a prior arrest and prison sentence for a rape in 1976 in Sublette County that led to his imprisonment for an unknown period of time before he was released in the mid-1980s, approximately two years before he met Kathleen.

Kelly sat with the two rape victims at Pack’s trial in Jackson in 2018, where he was sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison. Pack reportedly confessed to the rapes and apologized to the victims during his trial, saying he’d committed them for the thrill, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, but he denied having anything to do with Kathleen’s disappearance.  

Attending Pack’s trial with the two other victims had been empowering for her, Kelly said.

It was the closest she’s come to feeling like one day her mom’s body will be found and there will be justice. 

Kathleen is one of 51 Wyoming residents listed on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). 

Anyone with information about the case or Kathleen’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Wyoming DCI at (307) 777-7181.

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YouTuber Investigates Historic Wichita State University Plane Crash In Colorado

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The trail up to the site of the plane crash was fairly well traveled despite being a lung buster.

Over the years since the plane went down in October 1970, killing 31 Wichita State University football team players, coaches and staff, many of the family members of the deceased — and of the nine who survived — have made the trek up the mountain to pay their respects.

A dirt road off I-70, just west of Silver Plume near Loveland Ski Area, provides easy access to the trailhead.

On this day almost 51 years after the crash, the group climbing up to see the wreckage was led by Dan Gryder, a pilot and creator of the YouTube channel “Probable Cause” and about two dozen fans of his show, mostly pilots, and a couple other YouTubers here to meet Gryder and film their own shows.

It’s also Gryder’s 60th birthday, so along with a hike to see a plane crash site he’s been reading about for decades, he celebrated the occasion by offering the opportunity for some of his viewers — who he is meeting for the first time — to join him on the excursion. With him are his two sons, Drew and Dylan, both of whom are also pilots.

Admittedly, the hike up might kill him, Gryder joked as he headed up the gravel road to the trail, given that he’s an “old fat guy from Georgia.” 

There are a couple things to know about Gryder and his channel.

For starters, he’s a prolific video creator who doesn’t believe in fancy editing or graphics. Instead, he grabs his cell phone and just starts filming, ignoring those who try to get out his way. 

He also has a heart for this cause which compels him to fly all over the country to visit the sites of airplane crashes and then investigate their cause. In most crashes, he disagrees with whatever the National Safety and Transportation Board (NTSB) concludes.

He openly berates the NTSB on his channel as being too slow, not not thorough enough and sometimes just failing to see what he believes is the obvious cause of an airplane crash, despite the agency having a team of 500 investigators.

In fact, according to Gryder, the NTSB gets it wrong about 90% of the time, an allegation that the NTSB more or less ignores.

Gryder further objects to the lack of aviation experience among members of the NTSB’s five-member investigative board. According to bios on their website, only two members of the board, Bruce Landsberg and Michael Graham, are registered pilots.

In a statement to Cowboy State Daily, Keith Holloway with NTSB doesn’t acknowledge any specific examples of what Gryder called improper conclusions about airplane crashes on the agency’s part.

Instead, Holloway provided a blanket statement about the agency’s work.

“The probable causes from these investigations are determined by the facts and data that has been reviewed during the investigative process,” Holloway said. “Roughly 80% of the safety recommendations issued by the NTSB across all modes of transportation have been adopted and has proven to make, in this case, the aviation industry safer.”

To that, Gryder responds with an eye roll and rattles off a laundry list of cases in which he vehemently believes they got wrong.

The agency’s faulty track record, he said, is what prompted him to start his “tiny little fledging YouTube channel,” which in recent weeks has had more than 1 million hits on a single video, despite having just under 28,000 subscribers. 

Along with tweaking NTSB, Gryder also baits the “haters” on his site by publicly asking them to leave or not subscribe. He doesn’t care how many subscribers he has nor does he have any intention on monetizing his site in order to give him carte blanche to speak his mind. 

“I have a cell phone and a banjo,” it says on his home page. “If you don’t like it, then don’t watch. It’s very simple.”

His opinions carry a lot of weight with his fans, including the couple dozen pilots who have joined him on today’s hike to hear his particular insights as he investigates the site himself.

As one pilot who flew out for the day from North Carolina said, he wants to learn everything possible about what not to do wrong. He’s a new pilot, having recently retired from his veterinarian practice.

After retirement, he bought his own plane and learned to fly within the last two years. Other pilots, too, are eager to watch Gryder in action as he makes his assessment, which, not surprisingly, doesn’t wholly line up with the NTSB, who he said got it partly wrong yet again.

Despite the levity of Gryder’s banter, there’s a collective silence when the group finally locates the remnants of the plane, which have more or less remained intact, and the makeshift memorials left on site by loved ones.

Grave stones, Shockers jerseys, sepia-toned old photos, a favorite soda, a soccer ball painted blue and white and a host of other items have been left behind to honor the memories of the young football players, most of whom were 21 and younger, who died on the mountainside just over 50 years ago.

The sear marks burnt into the side of the mountain mark the spot where the fuselage exploded into flames. Shredded fragments of burnt and oxidized aluminum are flung like confetti in the shadows of the towering pines.

A patch of clear blue sky poked through the canopy of trees, mirroring almost exactly the weather conditions of that day.

More than anything, Gryder and the others are blown away by how much debris from the plane has survived intact nearly 50 years later. It’s rare that any wreckage remains, he said, and sometimes it might take him all day just to find a tiny scrap of the plane. 

Typically, the pieces are immediately removed after the forensic investigation which, according to the NTSB, is the decision of either the owner of the plane or insurance company, which is ultimately responsible for removing it. 

This, as it were, Gryder noted, presents a fairly palpable object lesson.

Of all the crashes he’s investigated, this one strikes him as more tragic, he said, given the number of lost lives and the fact that it never should have happened.

There were two planes carrying the Shocker football team from Kansas to Utah. One landed safely at Logan Airport while the other opted to take a scenic detour.

Along with being overweight, the pilots also hadn’t charted their course that day which all agree was particularly irresponsible given their lack of experience flying at high altitude, which requires its own special skill set. 

Of the 40 people on board, nine survived, including one of the pilots and owner of the plane Ronald Skipper.

The official cause of the accident was pilot error, according to the NTSB, which ruled that Skipper and pilot Danny Crocker, who died in the crash, flew into a box canyon at an altitude too low to clear the mountains.

By the time they realized they were too low, Crocker attempted to turn the plane around, but the canyon was too narrow. 

Poor in-flight decisions and inadequate pre-flight planning were also blamed for the tragedy, per NTSB. Contributing to the crash was the weight of the plane, the fact pilots had neglected to submit a flight plan and the fact the pilots were not familiar with the territory.

To this day, Skipper maintains that the plane crashed because the right engine caught on fire and failed and that he did everything he could to avert disaster.

In the end, Skipper’s license was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration, but then reinstated about a year later, according to a 2014 article in the Wichita Eagle.

The fuselage was intact when the plane crashed into the side of the mountain, Gryder said, but immediately burst into flames upon impact. 

After studying the canyon, Gryder surprised himself with a new realization about what might have gone wrong. On one hand, the NTSB had it right, he said.

Yes, it was definitely pilot error though ultimately, it was also a conflict of interest. He’s referring to the fact that Skipper, who signed the pilot’s paychecks, was the one giving orders that day, effectively changing seats with the pilot mid-flight. 

“He (Skipper) in effect became the captain of the flight when he shouldn’t have been, and should not have been giving orders,” Gryder said. “Those guys swap seats, and the other guys started giving the orders, there’s a problem…and one that still hasn’t been fixed today.”

Gryder also concluded that the crash was actually a result of an aerodynamic stall prior to making that left bank turn. 

“I think these guys became test pilots, trying to steep, crank it over steeply to get out of the predicament they’re in,” he said, noting that there was actually enough room in the box canyon to get the plane turned around. “So, it wasn’t the box canyon that got him.”

After 20 years of instructing in a DC-3, Gryder can attest it would have required a special set of skills and familiarity to make the 40-degree angle turn at an airspeed at 12,000 feet, he said.

Regardless of what happened that day, there’s no consolation to be had in further debating the cause as the group wanders through the wreckage, members picking their way through memorials erected by the generations of friends and family members whose lives were irrevocably impacted when that plane failed to clear the mountain. 

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