Air Force authorities launched an investigation Sunday into why a U.S. military C-130 cargo plane providing support for President Clinton crashed into a mountainside near Jackson, Wyo., the night before.
The plane had been assigned to bring equipment from Jackson, where the president had been vacationing, to New York City. But shortly after takeoff from the Jackson airport Saturday night, the plane slammed into the side of Sheep Mountain, about 15 miles southeast of Jackson in the remote Gros Ventre Wilderness. The crash site is less than 1,000 feet from the mountain’s 11,300-foot summit.
Authorities said they believe nine people were on board the plane: a crew of eight plus one U.S. Secret Service agent. There was no sign that anyone on the plane had survived.
A special Air Force investigative team from Hill Air Force Base, near Salt Lake City, arrived in Jackson on Sunday afternoon to begin looking into the cause of the crash.
Clinton was not in Wyoming at the time of the crash. He had returned to Washington a few hours earlier after ending his family vacation in Jackson.
He said he is “very sad and shocked” about the crash.
“This is especially painful to us because (the victims) worked for me and did an invaluable service, and I am very sad about it,” he told reporters as he boarded a helicopter at the White House to depart for his 50th birthday celebration in New York City.
White House officials say that when Clinton travels, he usually is accompanied by at least one or two Air Force transport planes carrying communications gear and cars used by the Secret Service. They also sometimes carry personnel beyond those accompanying the president on Air Force One.