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Friends of Medford plane crash victims remember 'amazing people'

Medford Police Department assists NTSB in plane crash investigation{p}{/p}
Medford Police Department assists NTSB in plane crash investigation

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Friends of the victims in Sunday's fatal plane crash in Medford remember them as pillars of the local community in Fallon, Nevada, a small town with a population of just under 9,000.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that 69-year-old Donald Harbert Sefton and 67-year-old Valerie Jean Serpa perished in the accident.

"It's terrible. It's really, it's really sad. it's really a loss for our community. Both Don and Val were amazing people who contributed so much to this community, and it's a terrible loss," said friend Rachel Dahl, who knew them both.

Dahl says Sefton moved to the Fallon area in the late 1980’s. He ran Systems Consultants, a computer software business, ever since.

"Don is a great guy. He ran his company and was very successful in the business world, a incredibly intelligent person, but he was really supportive of our small community and really loved our community," she said.

In 2015, Sefton started a scholarship fund for students through his company. That is how he met the Chairman of the Board of the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada, Kevin Melcher.

"I can tell you that he was a wonderful man and he will be greatly missed by a lot of people," Melcher said. "Despite what happened, I was thankful to hear that nobody in Medford on the ground got hurt."

Serpa grew up in Fallon and was heavily involved in the arts. She was the Executive Director of the Churchill Arts Council, which hosts a wide range of creative endeavors in the city.

"She built this organization and raised all the money to restore that building, which is now the most beautiful theater, art gallery, and meeting space," Dahl said. "She was just this beautiful, cultured, lovely woman who taught us all how to love and appreciate the arts."

Dahl says she is particularly close with Serpa's sister, and that Serpa was present at the city's Christmas tree lighting event last Friday as a member of the community.

"There's so many people who were very, very close to her, but what she was able to do with the community in embracing all of us and making us feel comfortable with what she was doing. She was magic that way," she said.

A memory Dahl points to that most exemplifies Sefton is the time she was looking to restore an old theater in Fallon. He was the first person she called.

"He wrote us a thousand dollar check right then. It was our very first contribution. He probably wouldn't want me to tell that, but he did that kind of stuff all the time and no one ever knew that he did that," she said.

The NTSB expects to have a preliminary report out on the cause of the accident within the next two weeks.

Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of one of the victims. The article has since been updated with the correct spelling, we apologize for the error.

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