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Fri, Oct. 18

Crash victim was volunteer pilot for YCSO

PRESCOTT ­ A 40-year-old Prescott pilot was among five people who died Wednesday afternoon when a twin-engine plane crashed on a flight to take pictures of an old Soviet military jet.

Pending confirmation from the Yavapai County Medical Examiner's Office, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office has not released the names of the victims who boarded a twin-engine, turbo-prop Piper Cheyenne.

The Daily Courier has confirmed through family and friends that one of the victims was William "Billy" Friedman, a local pilot who has spent numerous hours volunteering for the Sheriff's Office. Friedman was the captain of the YCSO Air Group, said Dennyse Loll, YCSO volunteer coordinator.

A Federal Aviation Administration official reported that five people died in the plane crash 16 miles northeast of the Prescott airport near Perkinsville Ranch.

A Yavapai County Sheriff's Office sergeant confirmed the number of occupants on the Piper Thursday.

There was no reason for searchers to believe that there were more than five people on board, said YCSO Sgt. Dave Rhodes.

A Piper Cheyenne and a MiG-21 took off from the Prescott Airport at 1:30 p.m., FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said previously. "The purpose of their flight was for the people in the Piper to photograph the MiG in flight," he said.

The MiG pilot told the Piper pilot that he may have a possible problem with a landing gear door, Gregor said. The Piper pilot went underneath the MiG to take a look. That was the last the MiG pilot saw or heard from the Piper pilot and the MiG returned safely to the airport.

Karen Gere of the Medical Examiner's Office said that she received a call from the federal officials on the scene asking her for permission to remove the remains. Officials removed the remains from the crash scene at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Gere said if she receives information she needs to confirm the victims' identities, her office might be able to do that today. Otherwise, the process may take more time than expected.

Friedman participated in the search-and-rescue missions, smoke patrols during summer months and would fly deputies out-of-state for extraditions.

He also is a 2003 Volunteer in Protection graduate, Loll said.

"He put in a lot of volunteer hours with smoke patrol," Loll said. "He was a definite asset for us."

YCSO Cmdr. Scott Mascher knew Friedman professionally and as a friend.

"I'm just devastated," Mascher said. "He was a friend of mine. He helped me find an airplane that I own.

"It's a loss to the Sheriff's Office. His volunteer services to our community are something that we are proud of. And he has been doing it for years. He did this for the community."

Mascher described Friedman as an extremely experienced and competent pilot.

Rhodes, one of the first people to arrive on the scene after the crash, also knew Friedman.

"He is a super-nice guy," Rhodes said, adding that Friedman knew how to fly a number of planes, including vintage ones parked at the airport.

Mascher said sheriff's office friends will miss Friedman dearly.

"Our sincere condolences go out to his family and the families of other victims," Mascher said.

Contact the reporter at mburic@prescottaz.com

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