Sheriff’s Uncle Killed In Wyoming Plane Crash

SPOKANE — The pilot of one of two aircraft involved in a mid-air collision over Rock Springs, Wyoming has been identified as the uncle of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Dave Knezovich, 54, of Rock Springs was killed when the Cessna 172 aircraft he was piloting collided with an aircraft frlying from Polson, Montana to Rock Springs airport with two people aboard. The people in the second plane – a Cirrus SR22 – were identified as Ralph Otto, 67, of Wilmette, Illinois and C. Michael Downey, 67, of Columbus, Ohio.

Authorities said they got a report of an “explosion in the sky” just before 12:30 Sunday afternoon. Debris from the burned wreckage was scattered over five acres in a remote area about five miles northwest of the airport.

According to authorities, Knezovich is a student pilot and was taking off from the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport when his Cessna struck the Cirrus SR22 that was coming in for a landing.

The pilot of the plane heading to the Rock Springs airport had been communicating with regional air traffic controllers, who cleared it for approach to the airport. The airport does not have a control tower, according to its Web site and Knezovich was not communicating with FAA controllers, a common practice among private pilots flying in clear weather, Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Federal investigators arrived on the scene Monday morning and say an investigation could take anywhere from six to 12 months.