Emergency responders with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Dunn County Sheriff’s Office and Dunn County Fire and Rescue worked throughout the night Saturday at the scene of a fatal Piper Pacer airplane crash in rural Dunn County, eight miles southeast of Dunn Center.

The pilot, an unidentified 43 year-old Fargo resident, took off in the dark from a private runway in a heavy fog and moments later collided into the side of an adjacent hill. The pilot was declared deceased at the scene due to injuries sustained in the crash and his identity is being withheld until notification of next of kin.

Recover and salvage operations are expected to continue throughout the day Sunday and into the early portion of the week as multiple agencies secure the scene while a full investigation into the matter is handled by the NDHP.

Investigators will collect portions of the four-place, strut braced, high-wing light aircraft that will be taken and examined by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine if the accident can be attributed to pilot error or aircraft performance.

This fatal airplane crash is the first in the state, according to the NTSB since a plane crash by Mandan in July 2020 killed 1.