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Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications Co., Published November 19 2009

Body of Minnesota pilot recovered in remote area

WHITE EARTH STATE FOREST, Minn. – The body of Andrew Lindberg was recovered Wednesday afternoon from the wreckage of his Piper Cherokee in a hilly, remote, roadless and wooded area on the White Earth Indian Reservation about 20 miles from Mahnomen in north-central Minnesota.

Deputies from Clearwater and Mahnomen counties reached the plane Wednesday morning and determined that Lindberg died on impact, said Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson, who spent the night near the site at a command center on a logging road in the White Earth State Forest.

The crash site is on state forest land within the White Earth reservation. Searchers had to use logging equipment to cut a trail more than two miles winding through the alder, poplar and pine forest just to get all-terrain vehicles to the site.

National Transportation Safety Board officials were traveling to the site to begin investigating the cause of the crash.

Lindberg, 32, was a new pilot who was flying Friday night from Lakeville south of the Twin Cities, to his hometown of Hallock to hunt deer with his family, who farm near Kennedy.

His parents, Bill and Charli, and his younger brother, John, arrived in the area near the crash site about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday when they received word a crashed plane had been spotted from the air Tuesday afternoon by a private pilot.

Lindberg’s parents, his new wife, Kate, and his uncle, the Rev. Bob Griggs, spent the night nearby, too, Griggs said.

By about 8 a.m. Wednesday, the state Patrol helicopter located the wreckage from the air and guided law enforcement searchers on foot to the site.

The plane apparently crashed at a steep angle into the top of a small knoll in the middle of the trackless state forest, not far from a nameless pond.

The body will be transported either to Hibbing or St. Paul for an autopsy.


Stephen J. Lee is a reporter at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.