FAA: 2 Pilots Dead after Single-Engine Planes Collide in Sutter County

SUTTER COUNTY -- Two single-engine Grumman G-164C Ag Cats collided in midair near Striplin in Sutter County, according to the FAA.

The collision happened around noon Wednesday and killed both pilots.

The first 911 call reported only one downed plane. Once deputies arrived at the scene, they realized it was two planes.

“One of the men was actually out of the plane when deputies arrived on scene,” said Sutter County Undersheriff Scott Smallwood. “I believe someone had pulled him out of the plane."

Brian Van Dyke, 63, was from a large family of flyers. He was discovered outside of his recognizable yellow Grumman Ag Cat.

Burton Haughey, 59, had to be cut out of the similar white plane he manned while working for the company his dad started, Moe’s Crop Dusting.

The men were flying Wednesday to plant rice seed.

"Flying crop dusters is not a safe task. It's extremely dangerous. Those men and women that do that they put their lives on the line too to do what they're doing." Smallwood told FOX40. "We have a lot of rice and rice it depends on crop dusters to plant, to fertilize, all those things."

At this time, it is not known what caused the planes to collide.

"Both were a lot of fun, good guys. Today is a tough day for everybody because they loved what they did," said friend Tom Bielby. "You think there's so much sky out there. How is it possible that two people run into each other? You just can't believe that it can."

On Wednesday night, Haughey's other business, the Red Hill Saloon, was full of employees and customers who loved him, but they were too distraught to speak about their friend.

In such a small community, the grief even reached into the ranks of the first responders.

"We have local deputies, local firefighters that knew who they were. There's a lot of emotions," Smallwood said. "There’s two good men in Sutter County ... It’s definitely a sad day in Sutter County."

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