Longtime Columbia River Circuit cowboy Ned Kayser, former Miss Rodeo Oregon Janice Healy Davis and the pilot of a Bellanca single engine aircraft died in a crash around midnight on June 11 in a remote area south of Ukiah, Ore., in the Blue Mountains.
The plane encountered a violent thunderstorm not long after taking off from The Dalles Municipal Airport in Dallesport, Wash., but the exact circumstances of the crash are unknown, pending an FAA investigation.
Kayser, 53, and Davis, 51, were on their way to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., where Kayser’s daughter, Kelly, is competing as a member of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas team and two of Davis’ nieces are also competing.
The Oregon Civil Air Patrol launched a team of five search planes early Sunday morning to look for the missing aircraft.
One of the search planes had a possible sighting Sunday morning around 9:15 in a mountainous area of southern Umatilla County.
Umatilla County spokesperson Jodi Florence said deputies confirmed the wreckage was that of the missing aircraft. Emergency officials reached the site early in the afternoon of June 13 and confirmed there were three fatalities.
The crash site is 13 miles southeast of Ukiah, which is about 50 miles south of Pendleton. Several roads are closed in the area surrounding the crash site, Florence said.
Kayser and his brother, Nate, were both tie-down ropers in the Columbia River Circuit for many years in the 1990s, each qualifying for the Dodge Columbia River Circuit Finals. Kayser’s cousin, Sam, is a former Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up calf-roping champion who later served as president of the Columbia River Circuit.
Davis, Miss Rodeo Oregon in 1981, also comes from a large extended family of rodeo competitors. Her sister, Mary, is married to 1987 NFR saddle bronc riding average champion Butch Knowles; sister, Maureen, is married to PRCA all-around hand Shane Crossley and sister, Joan, is married to former PRCA steer wrestler John T. Hays.