Bus driver one of the victims in Mottsville plane crash

A Douglas County bus driver and the husband of another bus driver were among the five people killed in a plane crash south of Mottsville Lane on Saturday.

Gardnerville resident Leia Denner, 40, was a bus driver for the school district for three years. Her routes included both Scarselli Elementary School and Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School.

"She was loved by her coworkers and all the kids on the bus," Cathy Denson, the district's transportation director, said on Monday. "This has been really difficult for all of us. She was a valued employee who we're going to miss greatly. She had a great sense of humor, was bubbly, and was a lot of fun to be around."

Minden resident Paul Dallas, 43, was also on the Beechcraft BE-95 , which nose-dived into a field south of Mottsville Lane on Saturday afternoon. Dallas was the husband of Teri Dallas, another bus driver for the school district.

"The Dallas family has been struggling," said Denson. "Paul was a great dad and a great husband. Teri's now taken a leave of absence. We've been in contact with both families, and they're hanging in there."

Denson said the school district had a special meeting on Sunday.

"Everybody came and supported each other," she said. "We needed to deal with our grief so that the other drivers could be emotionally ready to transport the kids."

Denson said letters were also issued to students and parents.

"We wanted to let them know that there had been a loss and that counseling was available," she said. "Everyone here's still struggling, but they know what they need to do, and they'll do it. It's an amazing bunch of people."

On Monday, Federal investigators were digging out the engines of the Beechcraft aircraft that crashed on Saturday in an effort to clear the wreckage.

Troy Hickey was operating the backhoe that aided the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials with recovering the wreckage, according to his sister Shannon.

National Transporation Safety Board investigator Van McKenny said he wouldn't speculate on the cause of the accident.

He said the impact drove the engines 4-5 feet into the field where the aircraft hit.

McKenney said that the Beechcraft BE95 was under visual flight rules when it took off from Minden-Tahoe Airport 4 p.m. Under those circumstances, it's rare that someone file a flight plan unless they're going a long distance.


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