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Medford student dies in Utah plane crash

A Medford man died Wednesday when the plane he and a flight instructor were flying crashed in a driveway near a Utah elementary school, The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting.

The newspaper identified the man as David Whitney Jr., 25, a Utah Valley University aviation student who was taking a flight lesson. The crash also killed the instructor, Jamie Bennee, 34.

No one on the ground was injured when the single-engine Diamond Da-20 crashed nose-first into a Payson, Utah driveway and broke into pieces, said Utah County sheriff Sgt. Lance Smith.

Area resident Candace Harris told The Salt Lake Tribune the plane was doing "barrel rolls" before it crashed at about 1 p.m. Other witnesses told Salt Lake City television station KSL that the pilot appeared to be trying to recover from a loss of power or maneuver at low altitude.

The Diamond plane is not capable of doing acrobatic barrel rolls and the student was too early in his training to perform a spin recovery, said Mario Markides, director of operations for UVU's aviation science program, which runs the flight school.

In a spin recovery, a pilot attempts to pull the plane out of a vertical dive that can occur with a loss of power or air pressure under the wing.

The cause of the crash an hour into the flight wasn't immediately clear, and the pilot didn't issue a distress call, officials said.

Classes were in session at Wilson Elementary School in Payson when the single-engine plane went down.

The plane crashed without hitting houses, trees or power lines or causing any property damage, according to police.

Whitney is the son of Susan and David Whitney of Medford and spent two years at Brigham Young University before transferring to UVU's aviation program about 18 months ago, his parents told the Utah newspaper.

He served a Mormon church mission in Mexico where he met his wife, Angie, whom he married Dec. 21, 2009, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

— Salt Lake Tribune and the Associated Press

David Whitney Jr. and his wife, Angie, pose in a wedding photo. - Photo courtesy of Whitney family