A North Dakota state senator, his wife, and their two young sons were all killed in a plane crash in Utah, officials said on Monday.
State Sen. Doug Larsen, his wife Amy, and their two sons died on Sunday evening when the aircraft the lawmaker was piloting crashed shortly after take off, Gov. Doug Burgum's office said.
The single-engine Piper plane crashed shortly after leaving Canyonlands Airfield about 15 miles north of the desert recreation town of Moab, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Department.
The Larsens were returning from visiting family in Scottsdale and had stopped to refuel in Utah, Republican state Senate Majority Leader David Hogue said in an email to his fellow senators.
“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.”
A bouquet of roses was draped over Mr. Larsen's desk in the Senate chamber, just above the nameplate that reads: “D. Larsen - District 34.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said on X that it was investigating the crash.
'Heartbreaking:' Governor, Colleagues Pay TributeIn a heartfelt statement, Mr. Burgum, who also serves as the commander-in-chief of the North Dakota National Guard, expressed the profound sorrow felt by himself, North Dakata First Lady Kathryn, and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.
Mr. Larsen, who had served in the North Dakota Army National Guard for 29 years, has represented District 34 in the state Senate as a Republican 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."
The governor extended his deepest sympathies and prayers to the Larsen family and friends, and called on the community to join in mourning the tragic loss.
Mr. Larsen's military service was marked by dedication and distinction. He enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 1994 as a combat engineer and was commissioned as an officer in 2001. Over the years, he served as an engineering officer and later transitioned to become an aviation officer in 2006.
His commitment led to mobilizations from 2009 to 2010 to Iraq as the company commander for Charlie Company of the 2-285th Assault Battalion and in 2013-2014 to Washington, D.C., in support of Operation Noble Eagle with the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery Battalion.
Mr. Larsen's military service earned him several prestigious honors and awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Service Star, and Army Aviator Badge.
Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, also expressed his sadness at the loss of Mr. Larsen and his family. He described Mr. Larsen 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, who sat behind Mr. Larsen in the Senate, remembered him for his dry sense of humor, candor, and passion for flying.
“He was passionate about flying. He really was,” Mr. Meyer said, who recalled Mr. Larsen telling his fellow senators about his efforts to obtain his private pilot's license.