News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

First Solar Plane Crash Victims Identified

Michael Cyr, Left, and Jeff Randal, victims of the First Solar plane crash in Riverside County Monday | Cyr Photo: First Solar; Randall Photo: LinkedIn

First Solar has identifed its two staff members killed in Monday's plane crash near its Desert Sunlight solar facility in Riverside County as Mike Cyr, 41, and Jeff Randall, 35. Cyr, an experienced aviator, was apparently piloting the fixed-wing plane before the crash.

A Riverside County Sheriffs' deputy and a BLM ranger who witnessed the crash told reporters that the plane apparently lost control before it crashed between the solar project site and Lake Tamarisk.

Both Cyr and Randall worked as construction supervisors for First Solar.

Cyr, a graduate of Palo Verde High School, joined First Solar in September 2009 as a supervisor during installation of a 21-megawatt photovoltaic project near Blythe. He joined the Desert Sunlight project as Assistant Construction Site Manager in September 2011 after a stint working on a 48-megawatt First Solar project in Boulder City, NV. Cyr had also worked with Cyr Aviation in Blythe, a family business mainly involved in crop dusting, and had maintained Commercial and Multi Engine Instrument ratings with the FAA since 1998.

Randall, a Desert Center resident, had worked for First Solar since September 2011 as a site supervisor on the Desert Sunlight project. He'd previously worked in supervisorial roles on a range of heavy construction roles on projects ranging from installation of the border fence to the demoltion of the Mulholland Bridge for the Sepulveda Pass 405 widening project.

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

"We extend our deepest condolences to Mike and Jeff's families and loved ones," said First Solar CEO Jim Hughes in a press statement. "We are in contact with the families, and are providing our support in this difficult time."


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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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