ST. GEORGE — A traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Washington City over the weekend led to the arrest of a man charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a plane crash that left one passenger dead in 2019.

47-year-old Christopher Adam Anderson, of Arizona, who faces a federal manslaughter charge following a 2019 plane crash in Mohave County, Ariz., was arrested on southbound I-15 near Exit 10 in Washington City, Utah, Jan. 7, 2024 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, 47-year-old Christopher Adam Anderson was arrested by the Utah Highway Patrol during a traffic stop on southbound I-15 near Exit 10 in Washington County. Washington City Police officers and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in the incident.

Before his arrest, Anderson initially was stopped near the Browse Exit but was released after he passed a background check run by emergency dispatch. It wasn’t until several minutes later that the warrant emerged on the national crime database, which is when the trooper requested assistance to stop Anderson who was making his way south toward Arizona.

Anderson was arrested on a federal warrant issued out of U.S. District Court in Arizona for one count of involuntary manslaughter within an aircraft jurisdiction and one count of registration violations involving aircraft, according to the arrest warrant released Monday. 

The case was filed following a plane crash reported Jan. 13, 2019, involving a Piper aircraft that crashed near Kingman, Arizona. 

Two occupants were aboard the plane: the pilot, Anderson, who was seriously injured, and a 38-year-old woman and owner of the plane who was killed in the crash, both residents of the Prescott Valley area in Arizona. 

On the day of the incident, shortly after 10 a.m., the passenger sent a text to her sister telling her they were airborne, authorities say.

The plane then landed at the Kingman Airport to refuel and then took off sometime before 11 a.m. en route toward an airport in Glendale, Arizona. When the plane failed to land 30 minutes later, the passenger’s sister called the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office at 12:15 p.m. reporting that the plane was overdue, according to a statement released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the incident.

A Piper airplane crashes near the Hualapai Mountain Park in Arizona, a crash that kills a passenger and injures the pilot who is later charged in federal court, Mohave County, Arizona, Jan. 13, 2019 | Photo by the National Transportation Safety Board courtesy of Katheryn’s Report, St. George News

During this time, the plane crashed into a region within Hualapai Mountain Park near Kingman, Arizona, where the heavily damaged aircraft was found in an inverted position at the bottom of a deep ravine. 

Anderson reportedly crawled from the wreckage and made his way to a road where he flagged down a passerby who called 911. 

Authorities say Anderson told several first responders the aircraft had experienced an electrical failure, during which he tried to turn around but was unable to do so when the engine lost power, which caused the aircraft to crash. 

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and was tasked with the initial investigation that was later turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which handles all investigations involving aircraft. 

Anderson was transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center in serious condition. He was later transported in critical condition to a trauma center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Despite multiple requests for him to do so, Anderson refused to provide any further details, the report states, adding that he also failed to provide any training or flight experience information to investigators.

Evidence emerged indicating that at the time of the crash, Anderson was flying with a student pilot certificate issued in January 2014, a certification that prohibited him from carrying passengers. 

A Piper airplane crashes near the Hualapai Mountain Park in Arizona, a crash that kills a passenger and injures the pilot who is later charged in federal court, Mohave County, Arizona, Jan. 13, 2019 | Photo by the National Transportation Safety Board courtesy of Katheryn’s Report, St. George News

In addition, a review of Anderson’s medical certificate application revealed there were no medical conditions or medications listed for the pilot. Federal investigators found this contrary to the information contained in Anderson’s medical records obtained from his physicians, which indicated that Anderson had diabetes and used fast-acting insulin as well as an insulin pump. These findings were later corroborated by a family member. 

According to the report, such a condition requires medication that would have disqualified Anderson from knowingly acting as the pilot-in-command of the aircraft.  

Blood tests taken nearly three hours after the crash were negative for alcohol but did show Anderson’s glucose levels were more than twice the maximum levels, the report states. The analysis also revealed that Anderson had used an insulin pump sometime before the crash. The evidence, however, was insufficient to determine whether the pilot was impaired due to diabetic complications at the time of the crash.

Evidence provided in the final report suggests it was a lack of fuel that caused the engines to lose power, which in turn caused the aircraft to crash. 

The aircraft’s two fuel tanks, one on each of the wings, were each equipped with a fuel cap, neither of which could be found during the crash investigation. This led federal investigators to conclude that when Anderson stopped to refuel, he likely forgot to replace the caps on the tanks.

The absence of the caps likely resulted in the fuel being siphoned overboard during flight, which ultimately caused the engines to fail, according to the findings.

Following the investigation, the case was filed in federal court in Arizona, and Anderson was transported to jail in Washington County. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in District Court in St. George before Magistrate Judge Paul Kohler on Thursday. Until then, he remains in jail on a federal hold. 

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact. 

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