Dr. Perry Inhofe, the son of Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has died in a plane crash.
Oklahoma City television station KOCO says a source close to the senator has confirmed his son was on board a plane that crashed near Owasso, Okla., on Sunday.
The plane crashed in a wooded area about five miles north of Tulsa International Airport at 4 p.m., approximately 15 minutes after the pilot reported engine trouble.
Perry Inhofe, an orthopedic surgeon, graduated from Duke University in 1984 and attended medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, according to the Oklahoma Surgical Hospital’s website. Inhofe is listed as a physician with Central States Orthopedics in Tulsa, the website says.
Inhofe was a licensed pilot and flight instructor, according to FAA records.
According to FlightAware, a flight tracking website, the plane took off from Salina, Kan., and was en route to Tulsa International Airport on a 43-minute flight.
The plane had been traveling at speeds in excess of 300 mph before decelerating at 3:43 p.m. According to FlightAware, the plane’s speed dropped to 98 mph at 3:44 p.m. In the final recorded data, the plane was flying south at 110 mph at 3:50 p.m. at an altitude of 1,100 feet.
Several people witnessed the crash, and the plane was seen burning on the ground after it went down in a heavily wooded area near the 8800 block of East 98th Street North. Smoke from the crash was visible from miles away, reports the Tulsa World.
Justin Allison, of Tulsa, was flying a plane minutes behind the one that crashed. He said he heard air traffic controllers report that a plane in front of him had experienced engine failure.
“I couldn’t hear the pilot, but I heard the tower declare an emergency for him,” Allison told the newspaper. “Which is a red-flag raiser, because usually the pilot will declare the emergency. It makes you wonder what was going on in that cabin.”
Witnesses Jake Bray and his uncle, Bryon Fry, were in the woods when the plane crashed about 400 yards away.
“I saw it go over once and don’t think anything of it,” Bray said. “Then it circled around and I saw one propeller out. Then it nosed down and went down hard.
“It started spiraling out of control, and it hit the ground.”
Bray said he and his uncle sprinted through the woods to attempt to save the pilot, but the wreckage was in flames.
“We were talking about trying and maybe pulling the guy out if that was possible,” Bray told the newspaper. “It was fully engulfed when we got there, and it looked like the wings had come detached. There were tires popping … there was nothing we could do.”
The plane that crashed Sunday was sold in late September by a company in Salt Lake City, Utah, to a Tulsa company – Anasazi Winds, LLC – that includes two addresses connected to Inhofe.
Sen. Inhofe returned to Washington just last week, approximately a month after undergoing emergency heart surgery for extreme blockage in five arteries.
The lawmaker turns 79 this month. He has been in the U.S. Senate since 1994 and is running for re-election next year.