Mid-air plane collision kills Beaverton pilot; survivors ID'd - KPTV - FOX 12

Mid-air plane collision kills Beaverton pilot; survivors ID'd

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Stephen Watson Stephen Watson

A mid-air collision involving two small planes killed a Beaverton man but spared a flying instructor and student pilot.

It's not known what led up to the Tuesday afternoon crash along the Willamette River southeast of Newberg. After the planes collided, one plane made an emergency landing in Champoeg State Park on the south side of the Willamette River in Yamhill County, while the other crashed north of the river in Marion County.

The collision claimed the life of Beaverton pilot Stephen Watson, who was a retired Oregon State Police trooper. Watson, 58, most recently worked in the campus security office at the University of Portland, where he was the assistant director of public safety.

Harold Burke-Sivers is the director of Public Safety at the University of Portland and described Watson as a quiet and reserved man who was caring and compassionate on the inside.

"What Stephen had a great knack of doing is really helping to be a great teacher to our students, in those difficult situations they find themselves in," said Burke-Sivers.

SLIDESHOW: Wreckage after mid-air crash

RAW VIDEO: Aerial views of the wreckage

RELATED VIDEO: Community reacts

Watson's plane, described as being large enough to carry six people, left a half-acre trail of wreckage.

"I knew he loved to fly and I knew the type of day it was, it was beautiful and he wanted to take advantage of that because there's not too many of those days left this year so I knew he wanted to take advantage of that," said Burke-Sivers.

On Wednesday, deputies identified the survivors as instructor Travis Thompson, 31,  and student pilot Henrik Murer Kalberg, 23.

They had been flying a Piper Seminole twin engine aircraft registered to Hillsboro Aviation.

Both were interviewed by authorities but refused medical treatment and left the scene.

"It is unclear at this time who was in control of the aircraft at the time of the collision," said Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree in a Wednesday news release.

Many neighbors in the area have visited the crash site of the survivors' plane.

They were amazed the pilot was able to land the plane on its belly and keep the aircraft upright.

"With any plane crash, if you can get up and walk away from it, you've had a good day," said Bill Smith, who lives across the highway from the field where the plane crashed.

Smith said an ultra-light plane crashed in one of his nearby fields last year and the pilot was able to walk away unharmed.

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