Republican North Dakota state senator Doug Larsen, his wife, and two children were all tragically killed in a plane crash in Utah, according to officials.
The news was confirmed in an email that Republican Senate Majority Leader David Hogue sent to fellow senators via The Associated Press.
The single-engine Piper plane took off from Canyonlands Airfield before crashing about 15 miles north of the desert recreation town of Moab, the Grand County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
According to Hogue’s email, the North Dakota State Senator and his family were visiting relatives in Scottsdale and had made a stop to refuel in Utah before the plane crash happened.
“I’m not sure where the bereavement starts with such a tragedy, but I think it starts with prayers for the grandparents, surviving stepchild of Senator Larsen, and extended family of Doug and Amy,” Mr. Hogue wrote.
“Hold your family close today.”
The National Transportation Safety Board announced on X that it was investigating the crash.
An NTSB spokesman confirmed a board investigator was expected to arrive at the crash scene Monday “to begin to document the scene, examine the aircraft, request any air traffic communications, radar data, weather reports and try to contact any witnesses.”
“Also, the investigator will request maintenance records of the aircraft, and medical records and flight history of the pilot.”
As The Associated Press reported, Officials didn’t release the plane’s origin or final destination. After landing at the airport, the travelers took a car into Moab before taking off in the refueled plane, NTSB spokesman Fabian Salazar said at a news conference.
The agency will have a preliminary report on the crash within a couple weeks, followed by a final report in a year to year and a half, Salazar said.
Burgum, who serves as the commander-in-chief of the North Dakota National Guard, expressed profound sorrow felt by himself, North Dakota First Lady Kathryn, and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.
Larsen, a Republican, represented District 34 in the state Senate since 2021.
“First Lady Kathryn, Lt. Gov. Miller, and I are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Sen. Doug Larsen, his wife, Amy, and their two young sons,” Mr. Burgum said.
“Sen. Larsen was a father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, businessman, state senator, and lieutenant colonel in the North Dakota National Guard who committed himself fully to each of those roles with an unwavering sense of honor and duty.”
Burgum praised Larsen’s dedication to both his legislative and military roles, describing him as a “tenacious advocate for individual rights and the freedoms he defended through his military service.”
Larsen’s military distinction was noted after he enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 1994 as a combat engineer before being commissioned as an officer in 2001.
Larsen also earned several prestigious honors and awards for his military services, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star, and Army Aviator Badge.
Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann also expressed sadness at the loss of Mr. Larsen and his family, describing him as “a true patriot” who was dedicated “to serving others.”
“I am saddened by the loss of Doug Larsen, his wife Amy, and their two sons,” said Maj. Gen. Dohrmann.
“I cannot think of a more tragic loss for one family, and the North Dakota National Guard sends our condolences to all of their friends and family.”
“I had the distinct pleasure to call him a Brother in Arms,” he added.
Republican state Sen. Scott Meyer remembered him for his dry sense of humor, candor, and passion for aviation.
“He was passionate about flying. He really was,” Mr. Meyer said.
A successor will be appointed to fill out the remainder of Larsen’s term.
His Senate seat is on the ballot in 2024.
Republicans control North Dakota’s Legislature with supermajorities in the House and Senate.