Ore. town mourns after plane crashes


by KGW.com, NWCN.com Staff and Associated Press


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 2:24 PM


Raw video of crash scene

GEARHART, Ore. - Investigators are at the scene of Monday's fatal plane crash in Gearhart, Ore, that killed the two people in the plane and three children on the ground.

The single-engine Cessna 172 crashed early Monday morning into a fogbound coastal home, which was being rented by two vacationing families. The crash killed pilot Jason Ketchson and passenger Frank Toohey, who had rented the plane from Seaside Airport for a trip to Klamath Falls. Three children inside the home were killed. One woman and her three children in the home survived, suffering burns.

Gearhart is a small coastal town located 10 miles from the Northwest tip of Oregon and just outside Seaside. It's the kind of community where most people don't hesitate to reach out to neighbors and visitors alike.

Most of its full-time residents are retirees who chose the small community for its slow pace and welcoming neighbors. It's also an extremely popular destination for families wanting a beach vacation away from the fast pace of the city.

When the sirens started blaring early Monday morning, the peace was shattered and people did whatever they could to help.

"My heart goes out to these people. I was driving in front of this house when the house blew up. I ran and held the young girl I saw coming out of the wreckage, it's all I could do. My prayers are with you, and all who were involved in this terrible tragedy," one person wrote in an online guest book created on kgw.com.

Throughout town Monday and Tuesday, community members were sharing their shock over the tragedy that took five lives, including these two messages posted online:

"As neighbors, we were utterly helpless to do anything. The tragedy is unimaginable, we are all so lucky to be alive and we forget this so often in our day to day world."

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"My brother witnessed the crash this morning on his way to work. He was the only one there but could do nothing. He saw the little girl and woman run out of the house crying to him, 'Save my family, save my family' but the house was already engulfed with flames, and then it collapsed. My prayers are with the families in their time of unbearable grief," one person wrote in the guest book.

It caused total strangers to take stock of their own lives and share heartfelt prayers for the families involved, even if they were total strangers to them, including these two messages:

"God Bless everyone affected. Our combined family thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved. We have young kids, we are a multi-generation very active flying family in the Portland area for decades, and we are deeply saddened beyond words by this tragedy."< /p>

"We are so sorry to hear of this terrible tragedy. It's sobering to realize how fagile life really is, hug your loved ones everyday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the mother and her children that are in the hospital now and the family and friends left behind by those lost today."

People who knew the families directly involved in the horrible tragedy were overwhelmed with grief and shock over the freak plane crash into the vacation home.

Many shared their support by posting comments on Dave Salesky's pilot blog as well as writing in the guest book.

Crash victims identified

Local residents who knew the pilot in the crash, Jason Ketcheson, said he flew in and out of the Seaside Airport often. His passenger was identified as Frank Toohey, 58, and also well known in the local coastal community.

"He (the pilot) also has small children and a family that loves him very much and will feel the loss... God Bless everyone involved," a friend of the pilot wrote in the guest book.

"Frank Toohey was the passenger who was killed in the crash. Frank Toohey was the funniest guy I ever met," another person added.

Relatives from Portland and Denver were sharing the vacation rental home that the plane crashed into.

"I know the [Portland] family from high school. I know they may not read this, but I just want God to hold them up at this time, and pray that Mr. Reimann's remaining family members can pull through their injuries," one kgw.com viewer wrote.

Reimann's wife, Ruth was hurt in the explosion but she still managed to rescue one of her children. Another child survived by climbing out a window. The youngest Reimann child, 10-year-old Julia, perished in the fire. Her siblings Sarah, 11, and Christopher, 13, are in the burn unit at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. The family is from Southwest Portland.

"I am so sad that happened. It is so unreal because I know the Reimann family. I hung out with Julia Reimann almost every day at school and Sarah was in my class this year. It is just sad," a girl named Mirabell wrote.

Even people as far away as Denver reached out to share their support online.

"We know the family who lost two children in this crash. Their pain and grief are unimaginable. This community (in Denver) will gather around them. Their loss cannot be understood by any of us who are lucky enough to know the family," one kgw.com viewer from Denver wrote in.

Dr. Fred Masoudi, a cardiologist at Denver Health Medical Center, was out walking with his wife, Marie Johnson and their oldest daughter when the crash happened. Their two younger children, Grace, 8, and Sam, 12, were still inside the home and died in the explosion.

"The Masoudi's are an incredibly respected and beloved family in the Denver community. Their children are most precious. We are feeling so much pain for all involved," another kgw.com viewer from Denver wrote.

Another message said "our heartfelt prayers are with all the families. May the Masoudis know that hundreds and hundreds of people in the St. Anne's community are with them in thought and prayer."

"We love and support this Denver family. We are all so heartsick and feel the tragedy deep in our bones. May God help the families heal," yet another family friend wrote in.