Two people died when the single-engine small passenger airplane in which they were traveling crashed nose first into a Baker Valley hay field near the airport Saturday morning.

The victims have been identified as William J. Watts, 77, who was piloting the plane, and Mihoko Matsuda Nelsen, 70, both of Middleton, Idaho.

The two had been traveling from Caldwell, Idaho, and were believed to have been en route to the Baker City Airport, Sheriff Travis Ash stated in a press release.

The Baker County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the crash about 10:20 a.m. Saturday.

Ash said the hay field where the plane crashed is owned by Sam Johnson. It is near Lindley Road and Interstate 84 north of Baker City.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration N-number registry, the airplane was a 1979 single-engine Mooney M20K registered to a business in Canyon County, Idaho.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board responded to Baker City to remove the airplane. The agencies are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash, Ash said.

The Baker County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the site by the Baker City Fire Department, Baker Rural Fire Department, Baker City Police Department, Oregon State Police and the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office.

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