Former Maple Valley fire chief killed in plane crash | Breaking news
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
March 28, 2012 · 3:04 PM
Former Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety chief Dwight Van Zanen died in a plane accident near Waxhaw, N.C. on Monday.
Van Zanen, who flew with a group called "Treetop Flyers" based out of Lexington, S.C., was killed when his Avid Mark IV Speedwing plane crashed near Townsend JAARS airport.
Van Zanen served as Maple Valley Fire chief for more than a decade from November 1980 to September 2001.
Maple Valley Fire Chief Brad Doerflinger described Van Zanen as an "intellectual" and "profession" who helped the fire department grow along with the city. "He was visionary," Doerflinger said in a telephone interview. "He took this organization and led us to that vision…from a rural fire department to the fire department we are today. We are merely stewards of the department that he built. Basically…he built four fire stations. We had six career members when he started. When he left we had 40."
Van Zanen left in 2001 to take up the position of fire chief at the city of Vista, Calif., according to Doerflinger, although he kept a home in Maple Valley. He later returned to the area and was living here when he was diagnosed with cancer.
After being declared cancer-free he moved to South Carolina.
Recently he had been splitting his time between Maple Valley and the East Coast and was expected to return in April, according to Doerflinger.
Van Zanen his survived by his wife and four children.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash and has not released information on what caused Van Zanen’s crash.Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.