Mar 20, 2011 10:45 PM by Laurel Staples, KXLF Newsroom
Officials investigating the cause of a single engine plane crash that killed a man are declining to speculate if weather may have played a role.
The crash happened during a blinding snowstorm about 4 p.m. Saturday just west of uptown Butte. Tonight, the site, about two miles due west of Montana Tech, remains closed to the public. Squad cars and road blocks are sealing off the area.
The attached video of the wreckage was taken Sunday afternoon.
While the blackened crash site is visible, it is difficult to see remnants of the small plane. The crash took the life of NorthWestern Energy Vice President of Wholesale Operations Dave Gates.
Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff John Walsh says the Cessna 310 with only the pilot aboard went down around 4 p.m. Saturday north of Interstate 90. Resident and KXLF News Anchor, Laurel Staples, heard the crash from her home on Caledonia Street and alerted authorities at 4:05 p.m. Authorities located the wreckage at 7:15 p.m. about 2 miles west of Montana Tech. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials say the plane left Great Falls en route for Butte around 3:20 p.m.
Along with his wife, Lorrie, Gates leaves behind two adult children, Jessi Gates Brock and Dustin Gates of Missoula.