NEHALEM — Oregon State Police responded late Saturday afternoon to small aircraft collision on the Nehalem Bay State Park airstrip as the pilot tried to land the plane. While no one in the plane was hurt, two elk were killed in the crash.
The pilot was identified as Todd William Rudberg, 49, from Shoreline, Washington. An additional passenger in the plane identified as Valerie Anne Villacin, 43, from Seattle.
While touching down at about 5:15 p.m., an elk ran in front of the plane. The aircraft was Rudberg’s 2003 Van’s Aircraft Model RV8, single-engine, fixed-wing plane. The crash occurred after Rudberg fully touched down on the airstrip and was slowing down when an elk ran in front of the plane. He attempted to speed up and relaunch the plane in order to fly over the elk without hitting it. The propeller and right side landing gear struck the elk and killed it. Another elk ran in front of the plane and was struck by the left wing. The second elk was also killed.
According to police, the plane spun around and came to a stop on the airstrip. The plane was totaled as a result of the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily closed the Nehalem Bay State Park Airstrip and will be conducting an investigation of the incident.
The airport is located in the state park, 2 miles south of Manzanita.