BULLHEAD CITY - A man who was thought to have died in a plane crash in Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport was from the Verde Valley and is now reported to have killed himself. The dead pilot is identified as Thomas Joseph, 44.
The airport near the Colorado River is not staffed overnight, but when crew members arrived early Saturday morning, they found a small experimental aircraft had crashed between the runway and a parallel taxiway, according to Airport Director David Gaines.
Gaines said he was uncertain of the exact time of the crash, reporting that at 7:20 a.m. Saturday, the aircraft was discovered by a duty aircraft rescue firefighter at the airport.
The RV-4 is a kit-built two-seater based manufactured in Aurora, Ore., by Van's Aircraft with more than 1300 completed and flown. Joseph kept his RV-4 at the Cottonwood Airport.
Monday afternoon an autopsy was completed on the dead pilot and it was reported that he did not die from the plane crash, but rather a self-inflicted gunshot before the plane crashed. The Mohave County medical examiner determined that Tom Joseph killed himself before the plane crashed, according to Bullhead City Police Spokeswoman Emily Frommelt.
FAA inspectors arrive and began the investigation into the crash.