RIVERDALE — Nearly 15 years to the day after Corry Clarke died in a plane crash at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport, his brother Layne Clarke met a similar fate, cruelly magnifying one Northern Utah family’s grief.
Layne Clarke, 48, of Taylor, was killed Wednesday when the plane he was piloting crashed on Interstate 15 in Riverdale, shortly after departing from the Ogden airport. Clarke’s wife Diana, 45, and Perry Huffaker, 45, and Sarah Huffaker, 42, both of West Haven, were also killed in the crash.
Corry Clarke was killed on July 16, 2002, when the gyroplane he was flying crashed after takeoff at the Ogden airport. According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, Corry Clark was 41 when he died.
Jeff Henderson knew both Clarke brothers well — at one time, the three were business partners at Automotive and Industrial Supply, a wholesale auto body shop and industrial supply store in West Haven.
“It’s a tragedy,” Henderson said Thursday. “There’s no other word for it. That family is really hurting right now.”
Henderson said he’s known Layne Clarke for more than 20 years, describing him as a generous, fun-loving free spirit who lived for family and adventure.
“His spirit, his attitude, his demeanor — they were just exceptionally large,” Henderson said. “He was a man who grabbed life with both hands and held on very tight.”
Henderson said Clarke was an avid biker and triathlete and participated regularly in competitions. He was known to lighten the mood at AIS with a smile and a laugh.
“He liked to have fun and if we weren’t having fun, we needed to change the way we were doing it,” Henderson said.
Henderson described Diana as “truly the love of Layne’s life” and someone passionate about motherhood. The couple had four children, ranging in ages from 16 to 21.
“She was a great mom, a great person,” he said.
Henderson said he knew Corry Clarke before he met Layne. He remembers well the day Corry Clarke died, and hearing about Layne’s death sent shivers down his spine. Henderson said Layne took up flying, fearlessly, in spite of what happened to his older brother.
“He was the kind of guy who when he did something, he did it 110 percent — he was all in,” Henderson said. “I flew with him many times and I’d fly with him again tomorrow.”
Karen Larsen was a friend of Layne’s and Diana’s and visited Jerusalem with the couple just a few weeks ago. Larsen is also a close friend of Corry Clarke’s widow, Brenda Grange. She said the family has gathered together to mourn.
“They’re a family that’s well-known in the community,” Larsen said. “So there are a lot of people out there thinking about them, praying for them. For them to have this happen twice — it’s just one of the saddest things you’ve ever heard.”
Larsen said Layne and Diana were the “life of the party,” but also deeply rooted in their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith.
“Layne always had a joke and Diana was just the sweetest thing,” Larsen said. “Layne actually bought me a place mat when we were in Jerusalem. He was just a funny guy.”
Larsen said she was in Bear Lake when she heard about the crash.
“My friend told me it was people heading out of the Ogden Airport, going to Island Park (Idaho),” she said. “My heart sank when I heard that because I knew Layne and Diana had a cabin there and flew there often. When I found out it was them, I was just sick.”
Henderson said he and many others affected by the crash are still trying make sense of the tragedy, but vowed that those killed will not be forgotten.
“(Layne) was a business partner, a mentor, but more than anything a friend — a brother,” Henderson said. “They’re all going to be missed.”