Here’s where the 2018 Christmas Day and other deadly South Dakota plane crash investigations stand

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the deadly Chamberlain, South Dakota, plane crash this week.

There have been 173 deadly aviation crashes in South Dakota since the NTSB and its predecessor began tracking. Those crashes have lead to 307 deaths.

2019 will go down as the second deadliest year in the skies for South Dakota with 13 deaths from four crashes.

The only year higher was 1968, when six Rapid City High School cheerleaders died in a plane crash.

  • Payne Stewart crash (KELO-TV)

Another notable year was 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart and five others died in a plane crash near Aberdeen. The plane lost cabin pressure, incapacitating everyone on board. The flight from Florida ran out of fuel over South Dakota, leading to the crash.

2008 was the only year with no deadly plane crashes in the state since tracking began.

The common question after a plane crash is: What caused it?

The NTSB has a complex investigative process that usually takes more than a year to complete. Right now there are six deadly crashes in South Dakota that are still being investigated.

In a KELOLAND News analysis over the last 10 years of deadly crashes in South Dakota, the average time from the day of the crash to the final report being released is 479 days. The NTSB says that’s common and that it can usually take 12-24 months to determine a cause.

*Probable cause not released until final report comes out

The independent investigative agency normally announces a few weeks in advance of an upcoming probable cause release. Currently, none of the six deadly crashes are scheduled for release.

However, there is a report from a nonfatal South Dakota crash from four and a half years ago that will be released in January.

The records show that nonfatal crashes have come down since the middle of the twentieth century in South Dakota.

There have been more than 850 recorded nonfatal crashes or serious incidents in South Dakota.

KELOLAND Media Group archives

A notable nonfatal crash is part of KELOLAND history. In the summer of 1968, a North Central airliner clipped a guide wire on the KELO-TV tower. Luckily, the plane landed safely with no injuries. KELO was not so lucky. The tower was destroyed. KELO engineers had the station back on the air in three days operating from the old 1,000-foot tower near Shindler.