Plane Crash Leaves Minister Dead

The Federal Aviation Administration is in the Valley to investigate Friday's deadly plane crash at the Mid Valley Airport in Weslaco. One person died and another was injured in the wreck. A lead investigator talked one-on-one with Action 4 News, as he worked to unravel what went wrong.

Mike Garvin, an F.A.A. Inspector from San Antonio, is here to help with the investigation of the deadly plane crash. "Preliminarily, we just know it was a Bonanza; single engine. It had trouble. We're not sure the exact reason or the cause," he said. The small aircraft was out on a student instructor flight from Edinburg before it wrecked at the airport's fencing just before 11 a.m. A city spokesperson confirmed that 70-year-old Ralph Copeland, a Minister at Copeland Ministries in Brownsville, died at the scene.

While 38-year-old Aaron Voreis survived. Garvin could not confirm who was flying the aircraft during the doomed emergency landing. Garvin said, "The flight instructor typically has control in the aircraft, but we have a pilot seat on the left side, and, on the right side instructor seat, a student seat. We need to ascertain who was in what seat and who had control of the aircraft."

Garvin will be joined by National Transportation Safety Board investigators on Saturday morning. His job includes securing the scene and documenting the aircraft's inventory. One item typically not inside a plane like this is a black box. That's why the feds are calling on help from the plane and engine's manufacturers. From there it's a process of elimination, Garvin said, to figure out whether it was pilot error, mechanical error or both.

"We'll do what we call a continuity test to make sure the flight controls were hooked up, things should be in place and didn't fall off the aircraft somewhere. The engine had compression, had spark and things like that." The investigation expected to last months.

The F.A.A. is asking anyone who may have seen the plane go down to contact their agency.