Where the 2018 Christmas Plane investigation stands, one year later

Click here to view the original article

The video in the player above is from Dec. 25, 2018.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It has been one year since two people died when a private plane crashed in between two houses during Christmas dinner.

We don’t know much more information from that day. The National Transporation Safety Board is still investigating the crash, which can often take 12-18 months.

The investigation is unique because at the time there was a government shutdown. No NTSB or Federal Aviation Investigators could go to the scene to document the plane. Instead, the Sioux Falls Police Department did that process.

Here’s what we do know:

Dr. Vaughn Meyer and his wife, JoAnn, were flying from Grand Rapids, Michigan, when it crashed into a neighborhood in Sioux Falls.

The plane was originally flying toward Sioux Falls Regional Airport when Mayer told the controller he wanted to “break off the approach” and land at an airport in Tea, South Dakota.

Flight radar shows the plane heading toward Sioux Falls Regional Airport (to the north). Tea’s airport is located to the west and labeled as Y14. The green line is the radar-tracked flight. It turns white when radar contact was lost. Courtesy: FlightAware

According to the NTSB preliminary report, the controller told Mayer that the plane’s altitude was lost. There were no further communications.

The plane didn’t hit a house but instead landed in trees and the back of a structure. All parts of the plane were found nearby. The landing gear was located across the street.

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.

This case is currently at 365 days and counting.

Vibrant, generous and kind. Those were the words a longtime friend is using to describe Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer. Vaughn was a retired plastic surgeon and KELOLAND News is hearing from a man who worked alongside him for more than a decade.

Like any pilot, Vaughn Meyer loved the feeling of flying.

“If I went into his office, and started talking to him about anything, and if being a pilot came out, I knew I was going to be in his office for another 30 minutes because he could talk about that all day long,” Dr. James Anthony Breit said.

Breit worked with Vaughn at Plastic Surgery Associates of South Dakota, and says the two became good friends.

“He was really good with patients. He was conscientious, you know. He spent time with them and he loved what he did,” Breit said.

That included spending time with his wife, JoAnn. Breit calls them a team.

“It seemed like everybody who talked to her, who didn’t know her before, they’d come away like, ‘What a neat lady.’ She was very, very nice. Very nice. Very easy to talk to,” Breit said.

Stories have come out about how the Meyers gave back to the community.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Ten Haken tweeted about Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer, pointing out how the couple had a 400-seat Chapel and Performing Arts Center was named in recognition of them.

Breit says Vaughn was also instrumental in bringing reconstructive surgery to Sioux Falls and helped teach area doctors how to treat burns.

Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer took their last flight, but Breit says they left their mark on everyone they met here on the ground.

“It’s hard to be without them.” Breit said. “Definitely lived life to the fullest.”