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Special Event

Jefferson County, Missouri Sheriff's Department Holds News Conference on Plane Crash Killing Gov. Carnahan

Aired October 17, 2000 - 7:45 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we take you live to Hillsboro, or actually to the state of Missouri where the sheriff of Jefferson County is giving the latest on a plane crash that has claimed the life of the state's governor.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SHERIFF GLENN BOYER, JEFFERSON COUNTY, MISSOURI: Once daylight gets here, we'll be conducting an investigation along with the FAA, the National Transportation Board, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Sheriff's Department. The FAA and the federal agencies will be doing the cause and origin at the crash site. We're just there to document the investigation.

QUESTION: When will the bodies be recovered?

BOYER: At this point in time, we haven't recovered anything from the aircraft, even identified the aircraft. And we haven't identified any of the victims. We'll be doing that recovery process throughout today.

QUESTION: What's the coroner's representative doing there right now?

BOYER: Just standing by, just standing by. Quite honestly, the coroner's representative is also our evidence custodian, so he's playing a dual role, and we're just waiting for the investigation to begin this morning.

QUESTION: Will the investigation slow the recovery of the bodies? I mean, do they have to take more care because of the investigation and slow that process?

BOYER: The biggest thing that's going to impact the recovery of anything, whether it be debris from the crash site or the recovery of any remains, is going to be the terrain. It's in a very difficult location, very densely wooded area with a lot of rock outcroppings. In fact, we had a couple of firemen receive some minor injuries last night from trying to get in and out of this area.

QUESTION: Can you get equipment down in there? Do you need to get equipment down in there, or will it be a hand -- literally piece by piece by hand to get it out? BOYER: At this point in time, we really don't know what we're going to need. That's one of the reasons we're waiting -- we wanted to wait for daylight before we can get in and do a good site survey during the daylight hours to find out what's the best way in and what's the best way out and what's going to be the best method of conducting the investigation.

QUESTION: How far is this site from here and in what direction?

BOYER: It's probably about two miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a mile and a half north.

BOYER: Just to the north of here, just to the south of Rice Road (ph).

QUESTION: Sheriff, how close are you going to let us get?

BOYER: Just simply because of the location of the crash site, it would be very difficult to get the media into the crash site itself. We don't want to get anybody else hurt. We'll try and get you in as close as we can later on today. You're going to have to give me some time to do that. Right now, we're more interested in getting our recovery efforts squared away.

QUESTION: Once those bodies are recovered, where do they go from there?

BOYER: They'll be turned over to the coroner's office.

QUESTION: What's the largest piece of debris you've found?

BOYER: I haven't been on the crash site myself so I haven't been able to witness any of the debris. From what I understand, there's not any large pieces. It was a pretty horrific crash.

QUESTION: Chris Sifford's family was telling the media last night, told News 4 that they were told that Chris Sifford's wallet had been recovered. Any truth to that?

BOYER: OK, I haven't been able to verify any of the debris that's been recovered, so I couldn't comment on that.

QUESTION: Sheriff, have you talked with the governor's -- obviously there's some sensitivities involved in terms of how the bodies are recovered. Have you talked with the governor's staff about that or anyone with the Highway Patrol? And can you describe those conversations?

BOYER: Well, at this point we're handling it like we would any other investigation in that we haven't verified even the identity of the aircraft, nor have we identified the identity of any of the remains. So we wouldn't be releasing any of that information until we were able to notify next of kins and make the proper verifications prior to...

QUESTION: So you haven't done that even, notified relatives?

BOYER: No.

QUESTION: How many eyewitnesses do you have so far?

BOYER: There were several witnesses. I don't know what the count is.

QUESTION: Has someone been hurt in the search already, you said?

BOYER: Well, there was a couple of firemen that received minor injuries just getting in and getting out of the area last night. That's one of the reasons that's caused us to make the decision to back out of the area and wait for daylight. We'll also be in contact with the FBI, have already been in contact with the FBI asking for assistance from their crash recovery team to come in just simply because of the terrain and the amount of debris spread out over a several-hundred square-yard area.

QUESTION: Do you think they went quick without suffering?

BOYER: I couldn't tell you. You know, it was a pretty horrific crash site.

QUESTION: Sheriff, on a personal level, how has this affected you?

BOYER: Well, I knew Gov. Carnahan. In fact, I had just done a political ad for him. I thought he was a fine man, a good family man. I thought he was an excellent governor and I think he's going to be missed by not only the state but Jefferson County as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

BOYER: OK, what we'll try and do, folks, is we'll try and have one about every 45 minutes to an hour.

LIN: All right, that is Sheriff Glenn Boyer of Jefferson County's sheriff's department in the state of Missouri confirming that investigators as well as the coroner is now standing by to see when they can get to the site of the wreckage, the wreckage strewn over a very rough and mountainous terrain. Weather is very bad there, may have contributed to the crash of the small plane.

They have yet to identify the tail number or even confirm the identity of those on board, but it is all but certain that Gov. Mel Carnahan of Missouri, as well as his son Roger and a senior campaign adviser, Chris Sifford, were, in fact, on board. In fact, the lieutenant governor of the state of Missouri has already been sworn in as acting governor. And Mrs. Carnahan has been notified of the death of her husband and son.

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