Friends: Pilot killed in Pierce Co. plane crash had a 'golden heart'

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. - Friends are coming forward with new stories about one of the men killed Wednesday when a small World War II-era plane crashed near Bonney Lake.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were planning to remove the plane from the crash site Thursday.

The wreckage rests in dense trees several feet into a heavily wooded area near 245th Avenue and Highway 410. The FAA says the plane was a North American AT-6C. The fuselage is upside-down, and the wings are separated from the body.

Several witnesses said the plane appeared to be having engine trouble before it crashed at about 3:30 p.m.

"It's an extremely complex recovery in terms of there's vegetation in some areas where we can only see three or four feet," says Josh Cawthra of the NTSB.

Both of the men who died are from Buckley.

Jim Cawley, 62, was a family man. Friends say he had a deep love for his wife Cheri and his two sons, Clint and Curt.

Family friend Steve Merwick says Cawley's dad let him learn to fly before he could even drive.

It was a passion. Cawley became a pilot flying for Delta Airlines, and when he wasn't at work, he was flying small older model planes.

Merwick says he was "very skilled" and could perform acrobatics - including flying upside-down.

But at the core- Cawley was a people person.

Jennifer Hadley, who bought Cawley's former home two months ago, says he had a "golden heart" and that he bought a sense of calm with him wherever we went - and people were drawn to him.

He was buying the World War II-era plane that crashed from 72-year-old Rodney Richardson, who also was killed in the crash.

The NTSB says it will take several hours to remove the plane from the crash site. Investigators will transport it to a secure location in Auburn.

Preliminary results from the investigation will be posted to the NTSB website in about five days.