CENTRALIA — The pilot who perished in a plane crash near Mount Jefferson, Oregon, on Thursday was identified by his daughter-in-law Sunday as Chehalis resident Wayne Wirt.
Wirt was flying his Piper Cherokee solo from Llano, California, to Chehalis last week, but missed a check-in with his family at 2 p.m. on Sept. 22, according to a written account of the incident posted by Wirt’s daughter-in-law on a GoFundMe page on Sunday.
Wirt’s last confirmed location was Sisters, Oregon, where he reportedly fueled his plane at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
When Wirt failed to land in Chehalis at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 as expected, his family filed a missing person report.
Hikers in the Mount Jefferson area reported hearing “sounds similar to a plane crash” Thursday evening, according to reporting by KGW8 News. Air crews with the Pacific Northwest division of the U.S. Coast Guard immediately began searching the area, ultimately locating the crashed plane near Mount Jefferson and confirming one deceased person was onboard, according to KGW8.
“It would be another agonizing day and a half, the morning of Sunday (Sept.) 25th, before the investigative team could identify the aircraft as being Wayne’s,” stated his daughter-in-law.
The crash is still under investigation and authorities are requiring the wreckage to be moved to a secure location, according to Wirt’s daughter-in-law.
“We were quoted at least 50K just to remove the wreckage from the side of the steep mountain,” wrote Wirt’s daughter-in-law, adding that the crashed plane was uninsured.
The family is aiming to raise enough money to cover the cost of removing the plane.
“Forest service told us it isn’t an option to leave the plane where it is,” wrote Wirt’s daughter-in-law.
Wirt lived with his wife and three children in Southern California, where he worked building Hollywood movie sets until he retired and moved to Chehalis several years ago, according to his daughter-in-law.
“In Chehalis, Wayne spent time volunteering with his local Lions Club mowing school and church lawns, and helping his neighbors complete time intensive landscape projects. He also enjoyed helping his kids with their various endeavors in his shop. He loved tinkering and playing with new tools, and passed that love on to his boys,” wrote his daughter-in-law, adding, “(P)lease hug those you love a little tighter, we really never know when that’ll be the last time we say goodbye.
To read the family’s full statement on the incident or to donate, visit https://gofund.me/d76534f1.