By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
A preliminary report about the Thanksgiving weekend plane crash that killed three people has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report, released Tuesday, does not address what caused the crash, but provides details about the state of the plane when it was found by authorities, including that it appeared to have hit several trees and had caught fire.
On Nov. 25, Bakersfield native Matthew Ahrens, his girlfriend, Trista Meyer, and her daughter, Shyann Lenz, left from Shafter en route to Wyoming after spending Thanksgiving with his family in Kern County. Ahrens, a certified private pilot, was flying a Piper PA-28-181, a small plane.
The trio stopped in Fillmore, Utah, to refuel. They left Fillmore at about noon and disappeared. A search was initiated, and about a week later, the plane was found. All three were dead.
The plane was found "substantially damaged" in remote mountainous terrain, according to the NTSB report. It had hit several trees about 500 feet tall. The cabin and the cockpit areas were both consumed by fire. When the plane came to a rest, it was upright, according to the report.
The report also detailed the weather conditions at the time the plane took off from Fillmore. Visibility was unlimited, the temperature was about 54 degrees, and wind speed was 4 knots, or about 4.6 miles per hour.
The plane was taken to a storage facility in Phoenix for further examination, according to the report.
Meyer and Lenz were buried in their homestate of South Dakota last Saturday. A Bakersfield memorial for Ahrens is planned for 1 p.m. Dec. 22 at St. John's Lutheran Church, 4500 Buena Vista Road, said his sister, Donna Moran.