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The tiny southern Utah town of Escalante is mourning the loss of two local men killed Saturday when their single-engine plane struck a power transmission line and went down in Garfield County.
The men were identified as pilot Paul Clark Bowmar, 56, and passenger Nicholas Wolfrom Reznick, 53, in a Garfield County Sheriff's Office news release on Sunday.
"This is a huge, huge loss in our community," said Nicole Croft, who runs the local Farmer's Market and was a friend of Reznick's. "We're a very, very close community. Everybody knows everybody."
The men were taking a recreational flight between the towns of Escalante and Boulder about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when the plane struck the power line, sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson said.
The crash occurred near State Route 12 at milepost 78.5, which is about eight miles south of Boulder and near the Calf Creek Recreation Area.
"The initial report is that [Bowmar] did not see the power lines until he hit them, and there wasn't any other indication that anything was wrong, " Bronson said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation Sunday.
Bowmar was an experienced pilot who was very familiar with the area, Bronson said.
More than that, he was the heart and soul of Escalante's local airstrip, City Councilman and longtime Bowmar friend Greg Allen said. Bowmar owned a hangar at the strip where he kept two planes and worked to improve its conditions for other pilots. He kept track of the flights that came in and out, reporting the data quarterly, Allen said. The airport has four of five private planes in residence but also is used as a base for area search-and-rescue operations.
"Paul was most of what we were doing out there," said Allen. "He was very active and concerned about it."
Bowmar was involved with the Utah Back Country Pilots Association which helps preserve and maintain remote landing strips across the state and often made recreational trips across the region with friends. Bowmar had also spent many hours working to help improve the nearby Boulder airport, where he was presumably headed when he crashed on Saturday.
"He had a lot, a lot of hours in the cockpit and was an intelligent man so, you know, this had to be a mistake," Allen said.
Bowmar had lived in the community for at least 20 years and operated a machine shop that did metal lathe work and employed a handful of local residents. He leaves behind several children and a long-time love interest with whom he shared his Escalante home, Allen said.
"He was a good man," Allen added.
Croft met Reznick and his wife in 2007, when Melanie Reznick was serving on a community development board. Friendly and genuinely interested in others, the Reznicks were early supporters of the farmers market, contributing onions and hay to its offerings, Croft said. Nicholas Reznick also kept bees, raised horses and was growing a seed-free hay for use with a local river watershed restoration project, she said.
"He did love the community," Croft said. "He was just so, so kind, so lovely and big-hearted."
A similar crash occurred in almost the same area in 2009, Bronson said.