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Probe into plane crash that killed reality TV star Darrell Ward - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Probe into plane crash that killed reality TV star Darrell Ward continues

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Crews spent the day cleaning up the wreckage and transporting it to Bozeman where it will be examined further. (MTN News photo) Crews spent the day cleaning up the wreckage and transporting it to Bozeman where it will be examined further. (MTN News photo)
(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)
(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)
ROCK CREEK -

Fans, family and friends continue to mourn the loss of "Ice Road Trucker" Darrell Ward, trying to understand why a life so full was cut short in a plane crash at Rock Creek.

o cause has been determined for a single engine plane crash that killed two people on Sunday, including a popular reality TV star. Crews spent the day cleaning up the wreckage and transporting it to Bozeman where it will be examined further.

The crash happened around 3 p.m. Sunday when a single engine plane piloted by 56-year-old Mark Melotz from Arlee, and 52-year-old Darrell Ward from Deer Lodge crashed while trying to land at a small air strip just east of Rock Creek on I-90.

Ward had starred in the popular History Channel reality show, "Ice Road Truckers" since 2012. The Missoula County Sheriff's Office says Melotz picked Ward up in Missoula before the incident, but it unknown why they attempted to land at this air strip.

Officials from the NTSB were on scene Monday morning trying to determine what caused the crash.

"We have had the recovery team come out," said lead investigator Thomas Little. "They've picked the airplane up and are taking it back to Bozeman, back to a salvage company and we will be laying the aircraft out and we'll start an extensive examination tomorrow with the airplane laid out, which is much more extensive than we can do in the field."

Little says this investigation could take months to complete, as representatives from the companies who manufactured the plane and its engine will also comb through the wreckage and file a report to Little, who will then write up a final report on the findings. 

"We're in the preliminary stages of this whole thing and it takes awhile," Little said. "We don't get in a rush, we're very methodical in how we do this."

Little says the plane was purchased by Melotz as recently as a week before this crash. 

Darrell Ward rose to stardom over the past several seasons of "Ice Road Truckers", a fan favorite for his direct, and often confrontational style. Tagged as "The Montana Legend", Ward's personal slogan was "any road, any load!"

He was appearing in the tenth season of the show this summer, being invited back for another season just days ago.

Ward was not only well known in the trucking industry, but here in Western Montana. He frequently took jobs hauling heavy equipment to help wildland firefighters, such as the Copper King Fire earlier this month. 

He was also known for giving back, recently organizing a food drive for Louisiana flood victims and planning an appearance in Nova Scotia for Special Olympics. 

But in the hundreds of posts online today, he's being remembered most as a father, grandfather and friend. 

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