UPDATE: 12:50 p.m. Tuesday
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Support is overflowing this week for the family of Katie Morrison, the Truckee resident and airport board trustee who, along with her two young children, died in a plane crash Sunday near Barstow, Calif.
In an e-mail to the Sierra Sun, John Morrison — the brother of Jim Morrison, Katie's husband — thanked the Truckee community for its growing support.
“Jim is currently surrounded by family and friends here in Truckee and we want to thank everyone for your overwhelming support and prayers,” John Morrison said. “We are thankful to be a part of this community, and grateful to be surrounded by all of you.”
A memorial service honoring Katie, 37, and her children — 6-year-old Wyatt and 5-year-old Hannah, who also died in the crash — will take place Thursday afternoon at the Martis Camp Family Barn in Truckee.
According to the Associated Press, witnesses who saw the crash said the plane appeared to suddenly spiral out of the sky and go straight into the side of the hill, in a rugged area just off Interstate 40, said Alan Hamm, who works at Daggett-Barstow Airport, about 2 and a half miles from the crash area.
The plane — a 1978 Cessna 210 — went down about 12:40 p.m. Sunday. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane was believed to be heading from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Henderson Executive Airport in Nevada.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the cause of the crash.
Kevin Smith, general manager at Truckee Tahoe Airport — which Katie helped govern since her election in November 2010 as part of its five-member board of directors — said the board has canceled its regularly scheduled board meeting this month due to the tragedy.
“We're stunned and shocked,” Smith said Monday. “Right now we don't know what we can do, we're still trying to sort that out. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”
Smith said Katie has contributed to the airport for the past few years, working in the district's Airport Committee Advisory Team.
She coached Truckee AYSO, and also was president of the Lake Tahoe Chapter of the 99's Organization of Women Pilots; president of a local chapter of CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member); and a founding member and president of a local chapter of CREW (Women in Commercial Real Estate).
In a phone interview Monday from Los Angeles, Tom Van Berkem, vice president of the airport board, said he heard about the crash on the news Sunday, but didn't realize it was Morrison. When he found out, he said he was in shock.
“Not only is it a terrible loss for the family and community, but also for the airport as well,” Berkem said. “She was a newly elected board member but was headed to be a great board member with her commitment to the environment and outreach projects.”
District board member Mary Hetherington also expressed condolences Monday.
“It's just devastating. I think of Jim and I just can't imagine the pain,” she said. “It's a loss for the board and it is devastating for the family.”
Hetherington said a major contribution Morrison spearheaded for the airport as part of the advisory committee was an outreach program on mountain flying and the preparations pilots should take to be safe in high altitudes. Hetherington said the program will continue in honor of Morrison and her impact on the Truckee community.
On Tuesday, Richard Dolven, interim headmaster at Lake Tahoe School — the Incline Village institution attended by Morrison's children — said the school is fully supporting the family through the tragedy.
“Our condolences, sympathy and compassion go out to Jim and his family and Katie's family. It's just a sudden and tragic loss and they have left a hole in the Tahoe community,” Dolven said. “They will be missed.”
Katie and the children are survived by her husband Jim; her brother, Phelps Jackson and his family; and her parents, Laban and Carol Jackson.