Three Adventist Families Killed 
in Montana Plane Crash Victims
On way to ski trip, plane crashes in cemetery
 
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor                                              
 
 hree Seventh-day Adventist families are among the 14 victims killed in a March 22, 2009 airplane crash in Butte, Montana. All three families were members or regular attendees at congregations in the Northern California Conference; the three husbands were longtime friends who attended both church-owned Pacific Union College and Loma Linda University.

No cause for the tragedy has yet been determined, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s regional office in Renton, Washington, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying a total of 14 people on board the aircraft – seven adults and seven children – were killed when the plane crashed and burned 500 feet from the runway at Bert Mooney Airport in Butte. The plane had crashed into Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte, officials said.

Multiple media reports and family members confirm Dr. Erin Jacobson, an ophthalmologist; his wife, Amy Feldkamp Jacobson, a dental hygienist; and children Ava, 3, and Taylor, 4, and Jude, 2, were among the victims. Erin Jacobson was a graduate of Pacific Union College who received his medical training at Loma Linda University. The Jacobsons resided in St. Helena, California, and were members of the Pacific Union College Church.

According to information at the Internet Web site of his medical practice, Jacobson had “a number of hobbies including skiing, cycling and photography. [He was] active in mission work and [had] performed eye surgery in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.”

Also confirmed as victims were Loma Linda University alum Dr. Michael L. Pullen of Galt, California, who had a dental practice in Valley Springs, his wife Dr. Vanessa Feldkamp Pullen, a pediatrician and Amy’s sister, and the Pullen’s children Sydney and Christopher. The Pullens were said to be members of the Lodi-English Oaks Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lodi, California. Michael Pullen also held a degree in Engineering, the Web site for his dental practice said. Both Vanessa and Michael Pullen were graduates of Walla Walla University.

Sisters Vanessa Pullen and Amy Jacobson were also both graduates of Loma Linda Academy, said Enno Müller, assistant communication director for the Southeastern California Conference.

The third known set of victims are the family of Dr. Brent D. Ching, a dentist from Chico, California, his wife, Kristen, and their two children, Hailey and Caleb. Ching was a 1998 graduate of Loma Linda University’s School of Dentistry, LLU officials confirmed, and reportedly were in regular attendance at the Chico and Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Churches.

 

Michael and Vanessa Pullen; Sydney, 9; Christopher, 7. (Photo: Adrian Cotton)

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our prayers are with the victims’ families. This is a very personal tragedy for Pacific Union College and our local community,” college president Richard Osborn said in a statement. “All but one of the adults on board the plane graduated from or attended PUC, and there are many on our campus who remember them as students. Our alumni are also grieving this loss, as are many in the St. Helena and Angwin communities who knew and loved the Jacobson family.”

Tragedies such as this remind us of the importance of our belief in the blessed hope,” said Don C. Schneider, North American division president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “It is at the second coming of Jesus Christ that events such as this will be eternally healed.”

NTSB acting chairman Mark V. Rosenker told a March 23 news conference that the Swiss-manufactured Pilatus PC-12/45 aircraft was a “turboprop” aircraft and had a single pilot on board. Such aircraft are not required to have cockpit voice recorders or flight data recorders that would supply information to help determine a cause of the disaster. Rosenker said it would be a number of months before a cause is determined.

The plane was originally en route to Bozeman, Montana for a family vacation; during the flight, media reports indicate, the pilot changed plans and chose Butte as a destination.

 

Brent Ching, 37; Kristen Ching, 31; Hailey Ching, 5; Caleb Ching, 3. (Photo: Bradley Ching)

Amy and Vanessa’s father, Dr. Irving M. “Bud” Feldkamp III, is reported to have owned the company to which the aircraft was registered. Media reports stated Feldkamp is also owner of the Hospitality Dental Group in San Bernardino, California, and Glen Helen Raceway, a motorsports facility in the same city. Feldkamp is a member of the Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church.

David Feldkamp, Bud Feldkamp’s cousin, told the Los Angeles Times that Bud Summerfield of Highland, Calif., was the pilot. David Feldkamp indicated that Summerfield was an “accomplished and careful” pilot who had piloted the Feldkamp family “for 10 years.”

An initial NTSB statement about the March 22 crash stated, “At approximately 3:00 pm MDT a Pilatus PC-12/45 (N128CM) crashed into Holy Cross Cemetery on approach to Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana. Multiple fatalities have been reported.”

At the March 23 press briefing, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer told reporters, “I’m sure that this evening and tomorrow evening, moms and dads, families all over Montana will say an extra prayer for these children and these families.”
 
 



 
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