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Pilot, passenger identified in fatal Medford plane crash

Medford firefighters put out the flames Sunday evening following a plane crash that killed pilot Donald Harbert Sefton, 69, and passenger Valorie Jean Serpa, 67, both of Fallon, Nevada. [Medford Fire Department photo]

Medford police have released the names of the two Nevada residents who were killed in a plane crash Sunday afternoon near a local car dealership.

Donald Harbert Sefton, 69, of Fallon, Nevada, was the pilot and sole registered owner of the 1977 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain that crashed into an Airport Chevrolet parking lot in the 3000 block of Biddle Road shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release from Medford police.

The passenger in the fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft was 67-year-old Valorie Jean Serpa, also of Fallon, Nevada.

The two Nevadans were active in their local community, according to reports from the Reno Gazette Journal and the Carson City-based Nevada Appeal. Fallon is located about 60 miles east of Reno and Carson City.

The Nevada news outlets described Sefton as the founder of the information technology and training company System Consultants of Fallon, Nevada. The company’s website states that it has “experience in Information systems, training and the adoption of microcomputers as part task trainers for military aviation.”

SCI has contracts with the states of Nevada and Utah to process their big-game hunting drawings, the Fallon company’s website states.

Serpa was the longtime executive director of the Churchill Arts Center, a nonprofit that brings cultural events to the greater Churchill County, Nevada area. According to the nonprofit’s website, Serpa started at the nonprofit as a board member in 1987, moved up to chair in 1989, and became the nonprofit’s executive director after receiving private funding in 1991.

The Medford plane crash caused extensive road closures in the area Sunday evening. According to Medford police, the crash investigation closed one roadway, Chevy Way, until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the circumstances behind the plane crash.

A preliminary NTSB report could be at least a week away. As of Tuesday morning, no preliminary reports for December plane crashes were yet on the NTSB website.

What’s known is that Medford firefighters arrived on scene near Airport Chevrolet to find “at least 20 vehicles that were fully involved,” Chief Eric Thompson said in an Associated Press report.

“We know that the aircraft took off from the Medford airport, they had just filled up with fuel, they had 128 gallons of fuel on board and the incident occurred only a few minutes after they took off,” Thompson said.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.