Utah Valley emergency dispatchers had been notified by the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport control tower personnel that at 10:25 a.m. the pilot of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk had called in a "May Day," reporting fire in the cockpit. The pilot, 66-year-old Nicholas Soter, of South Jordan, said he intended to make an emergency landing on the highway.
"Almost simultaneously to that, the Utah Highway Patrol office in Price reported receiving a call from a ham radio operator on the scene of a reported plane crash at the same location," Rice said.
UHP troopers and sheriff's deputies confirmed Wilson was dead at the scene and Soter was in critical condition. He was flown by helicopter to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.
The men were confirmed to have taken off earlier Thursday from Spanish Fork and had been expected to return later in the day. They work for a company that maps the ground with radar, which is what they were doing at the time of the crash, Rice said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the crash of the four-seat aircraft would be jointly investigated by the Utah County Sheriff's Office the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
It was expected to be several weeks before a preliminary cause is released.
The highway was closed for several hours while the wreckage was cleared and Rocky Mountain Power crews secured lines. The highway had reopened by 1:30 p.m.