Authorities have finally released the identities of the 3 people killed about 7:30 Sunday evening when their small plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Chadron Municipal Airport.
Dawes County Attorney/Coroner Vance Haug says those killed were the pilot, 44-year Dr Matthew Bruner, his 21-year old son Noah, and 19-year old Sydnee Brester, a close family friend. The Bruners were from Scottsbluff while Bresler was from Gering.
Dr Bruner was the Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Obstetrics at Regional West Medical Center as well as head of its Women’s Health Center and owner of the plane.
Regional West President and CEO John Mentgen calls Bruner a medical staff leader, physician, and friend to many.
Gov Pete Ricketts, in Scottsbluff Tuesday for a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, recounted that Dr Bruner had worked very closely with Chief State Medical Officer Dr Gary Anthone during the pandemic, so his death is a loss that will be felt all across Nebraska.
Noah Bruner graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 2018 and Chadron State College this past May. He was working at Power2Play Sports in Windsor, CO.
Sydnee Brester graduated from Gering High School this spring and was attending WNCC, where she was an active member of the Collegiate Choral and Varsity Vocalise vocal music ensembles.
Vocal music instructor Dr Patrick Newell says she had a strong voice and was just beginning to build her WNCC family, making new friends in choir and her other classes
Brester’s mother, Angie, is a long-time Gering elementary teacher and the school district issued a statement saying the “the entire team” at Gering Public Schools extends sincerest thoughts and condolences to all the families impacted by the crash.
Haug says any further information on the crash itself, including the cause, will come from the FAA or the National Transportation Safety Board. The initial NTSB report should be out within 2 weeks, but the final report normally takes 12-to-24 months.
Friends of Brester and the Bruners say they’d flown to Chadron Sunday morning, picked up another Bruner son attending Chadron State College, and flew on to Minneapolis to watch the Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers game.
On the return trip, the 6-seat twin-engine plane landed in Chadron to let off the one son and to refuel. The crash occurred just after it took off again, going down in hills about a mile-and-a-half north of the airport.
The Chadron dispatch center received multiple calls about 7:30 pm reporting a “fireball” or “explosion” and a possible grass fire. The first units on the scene found the wreckage with the 3 occupants deceased. The fire burned about 1-½ acres.