The day after a small crop-dusting plane crashed in northern Blaine County, resulting in the loss of its pilot and sole occupant Marvin Edwards — who was Blaine County coroner and owner of Edwards Funeral Home — people all over his hometown of Chinook, Blaine County and the Hi-Line are still reeling.
Word spread through Blaine and Hill counties and across the state Tuesday, after the plane went down in the early morning, around 5:15.
“It’s just enough to make you ill, ” said Chinook City Clerk Lorraine Mulonet.
Mulonet’s daughter is married to one of Edwards’ sons.
“They were just up at my daughter's house last night for his granddaughter’s birthday, ” Mulonet said Tuesday.
The plane that Edwards used to crop dust crashed on the Billmayer farm, in the Turner and Hogeland area, though the Billmayers said he wasn't crop dusting their farm. They didn't know where he was going.
The Billmayers, who were friends with Edwards, were just getting up.
“It was early when it happened, ” Susan Billmayer said. “I heard a plane coming. I heard it go close to the house, next thing I knew it was just a thud, no big explosion or anything. Just a thud. ”
She said her son rushed to the crash before quickly returning to call 911.
The rest of the day was a blur for the Billmayers, with the emergency responders who came in from Turner and Hogeland, the Blaine County officials who followed soon after and the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigators who filled their house.
Blaine County Commissioner Vic Miller heard about the crash when he came into the office around 8:30 that morning and hurried to the Billmayer residence.
“This is quite a shock to the entire community, ” Miller said. “Whenever you have something like this happen, our hearts and prayers go out to the family. ”
Chinook Mayor Jamie Neibauer heard the news around the same time and was also one of the many shocked.
“It’s tragic. He had an effect on a lot of lives in our community, ” Neibauer said. “I think everybody knew him, pretty much. It’s going to be a lot harder without him, for the county, for the whole community. ”
According to The Associated Press, Edwards’ body was taken to a state crime lab in Missoula.
The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the investigation into how the crash happened.
As the news spread across the state, comments on various media outlets covering the crash came in from as far as Louisiana sharing condolences and fond memories of Marvin Edwards.