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NTSB: Plane hit trees in deadly southern Boone County crash; Sheriff’s Office names victim


The National Transportation Safety Board says investigators believe a small plane that crashed near Hartsburg on Tuesday flew into trees before hitting the ground.

NTSB said the plane crashed just after noon Tuesday. The pilot died when a Piper PA-46 crashed in southern Boone County; they were the only person on board.

The victim in the crash is Wade Bates, 58, from Arkansas, according to Boone County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brian Leer. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Bates has held a commercial pilot license since Sept. 21, 2020. His license states he resided in West Fork, Arkansas.

Leer said Bates leaves behind a wife and family.

"One of our lieutenants spent some time on the phone last night with his wife, just trying to answer some questions that he could answer and provide what little closure he could to her," Leer said.

An NTSB investigator was at the crash scene Wednesday morning to document and examine the plane. The plane will likely be taken away Thursday to be further evaluated, according to NTSB.

Pieces of the plane fell into Hartsburg residents' yards.

"A lot of the debris we found was up to even four miles from the crash site," Leer said. "It was apparent that the plane was coming apart prior to the crash based on the debris field that we found. The witness that we spoke with on scene described the aircraft as just falling from the sky."

Flight-tracking website Flightradar 24 showed a Piper PA-46 was en route from Madison, Wisconsin, to Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Records show the plane was diverted to Columbia Regional Airport before disappearing over southern Boone County.

NTSB said a preliminary report should not be expected for about a month, and the full investigation could take up to two years. NTSB reports do not speculate on cause -- according to the federal organization, it only gathers facts.

NTSB investigations look into three main things: the pilot, the plane and the environment. NTSB said it is collecting the following information for the investigation:

  • Recordings of any air traffic control communications
  • Radar data (flight track data)
  • Weather reports, weather forecasts and actual weather and lighting conditions around the time of the accident
  • 72-hour background of the pilot to determine if anything have affected the pilot’s ability to safety operate the flight
  • Witness statements
  • Electronic devices that could contain information relevant to the investigation, and any available surveillance video, including from doorbell cameras.
  • Aircraft maintenance records
  • Pilot’s license, ratings and recency of flight experience

ABC 17 Stormtrack Meteorologist Chance Gotsch looked into the weather environment around the time of the crash.

"During the time of 11:50 to about 12:15, looking at radar data, we saw weaker storms popping up in the Hartsburg, Missouri, area and southern Boone County," Gotsch said. "Now, during that time, we would see wind gusts at the surface closer to about 31 miles per hour, that was observed in Columbia."

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has video relevant to the crash is asked to contact the NTSB at

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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