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Melaleuca’s IACI rep injured in plane crash, father says

An investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration is looking into why a twin-engine airplane with three people on board was forced to make an emergency landing Sept. 19 in a farm field near Idaho Falls.

Authorities say mechanical difficulties may have led to the early landing, about a mile from the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Sgt. Jeff Edwards said all three occupants were out of the airplane when emergency personnel arrived. Two were able to walk. The Idaho Statesman identified one of the injured passengers as Damond Watkins, one of Idaho’s three members on the Republican National Committee and an executive with Melaleuca Inc.

Authorities on Sept. 20 identified the pilot as Bradley Hone, of Idaho Falls, and the third passenger as Justin Manwaring. Both were treated and released for minor injuries.

But Watkins’ father, Dane Watkins, told the newspaper his son suffered a broken back in the crash and was scheduled to undergo surgery at an Idaho Falls hospital Sept. 20.

“We just thank the Lord that he’s alive,” said Dane Watkins, a former state senator from Idaho Falls and former candidate for Congress. “It could have been a lot worse. We’re fortunate and blessed.”

Damond Watkins, 40, is the vice president of corporate relations for Melaleuca and represents the company on the board of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Watkins was returning home from Boise in the private plane after an IACI board meeting, his father said.

Idaho Falls fire officials say damage to the plane appeared limited to its wheels, landing gear and engines.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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