Bad news from Wyoming

It has not been announced yet, but from the sound of, news is coming out of Wyoming about the fate of Luke Bucklin and his three sons, whose plane went down over Wyoming last week. (It’s now been confirmed)

Six kids, four cars, two houses, and a few crustaceans.


By ginger – Posted on November 2nd, 2010

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Luke, Nate, Nick and Noah. We look to God as our refuge and strength and trust him to carry us through the painful days ahead.

We send a heartfelt thank you to all the family members, friends, and others from the Twin Cities community and around the world, for their prayers and expressions of love and concern over the past week. These have been a major source of support for us during this difficult time.

update 10:21 a.m.

From the Prayers For Luke Web site:

At dusk last night, the search and rescue team located the plane and the bodies of Luke, Noah, Nate and Nick. Please pray for peace and comfort for Michelle, Ginger, Sarah, Samantha and Oliver as they absorb this news and as they grieve the loss of their family members. Pray for the rest of the extended family, the loved-ones of the Bucklins, Luke’s co-workers, and the boys’ friends.

update 10:38 a.m. – From The Nerdery, the blog at Sierra Bravo, which was founded by Luke Bucklin:

Our deepest sympathies go out to Luke’s family and all who love him and his sons Nick, Nate and Noah. We’re forever grateful to all who bravely stepped up in search efforts in Wyoming, and we’re incredibly moved by the overwhelming support from the community for Luke’s family and friends.

We will sorely miss Luke as our leader. But we’ll miss him far more as our friend. Everyone who knew Luke came away better for it.

While always a programmer at heart, Luke’s entrepreneurial spirit touched every facet of our business. Everyone here revered him for his personable leadership style and good nature. In his epic all-staff email that promoted all his Nerdery colleagues as his Co-Presidents, he wrote that during the early days of our company he did it all, but now he no longer had to. Always humble, he said that thanks to all of us, his workday now consisted of “Connect Four, meetings, and Connect Three (red chips are wild)”. But everyone knew he could do it all, and we watched him go wherever he was needed most, day-to-day, without ever losing sight of the bigger picture of where he wanted to take the company.

Putting his family first, Luke was in Wyoming vacationing when we last made the 2010 Fast 50 list of fast-growing private companies, but first he had this published exchange with Biz Journal:

Editor Kim Johnson: “Tips for managing and motivating people?”

Luke: “Go beyond just treating employees fairly. Understand their career goals, and work to help them achieve success. Don’t make them earn your trust – give them your trust to make decisions, and stand behind them when they do.”

He said it and meant it and lived it well. Luke believed in giving back to our community, and under his leadership The Nerdery was honored in 2010 with The Quality of Life Award and The Jefferson Award for corporate philanthropy through The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, at which volunteers have so far donated more than a million dollars worth of web development services to 39 nonprofit organizations. Luke called this a good start.

Growing The Nerdery’s capabilities, staff and revenue tells only part of Luke’s success story as a business leader – but it’s not what meant the most to him. Cobbling together a culture and company where likeminded people wanted to work and play with him mattered more. When a programmer dreamed up our now biannual Pentathanerd competition, Luke jumped right into the the first Summer Games and promptly won a gold medal playing Boggle. When asked what he was most proud of about The Nerdery, he said “The Nerdery.” When The Nerdery was #1 on Biz Journal’s Great Places to Work list , Luke’s “I-told-you-so!” memo to staff gained wider audience when it appeared on this blog.

When times got tough, Luke stood right up and said so. His emails weren’t as funny those times, but his integrity was in every word. Even as the leader of a privately owned company, he held himself publicly accountable when we faltered, as he did in this blog post.

Beyond all that, Luke was the kind of guy that would wear a tux to work on the day he’d get a pie thrown in his face for the sake of raising money to fight cancer – something worthy of due respect and worth watching over and over again.

Luke’s sense of humor was all-inclusive and never missed an opportunity to laugh loudest at himself. He took it characteristically well when we lampooned him on his fortieth birthday. We wish he’d have had many more.

Whether you knew Luke or not, I hope knowing more about the kind of person he was makes you smile. His humanity can’t help but poke through even the darkest clouds. As brave a face as we try to put on, we’ll not be the same without Luke. But we will honor his legacy, always, and we’ll follow his lead by living up to the example he set for all of us. Thank you for keeping Luke’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

update 10:47 a.m. Courtesy of The Nerdery, here’s a video of Luke Bucklin — in the tuxedo — getting hit in the face with a pie for charity.

Pie in the face of The Nerdery from The Nerdery on Vimeo.

update 10:49 a.m. Here’s the press release from the sheriff’s office in Wyoming:

(Lander, WY) – Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker confirmed the wreckage of a single-engine fixed-wing aircraft was found late Monday in the primary search area east of the Continental Divide. Searchers on the scene reported there were no survivors. The crash site was found approximately one mile east of the aircraft’s last known location near Indian Pass at an elevation of about 11,100 feet early this evening, Nov. 1, 2010.

Four members of a Minnesota family were on board.

Searchers found the aircraft exactly seven days after it disappeared from radar Monday, October 25, on a flight from Jackson Hole to Riverton, en route to Minneapolis. The aircraft left Jackson’s airport in a snowstorm. The crash site is in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area of the Shoshone National Forest.

The wreckage was found in a small steep drainage on the side of a mountain in a boulder field. A ground search team comprised of two women and one man, all technical mountaineers was traversing down the side of the mountain when they spotted the wreckage from above. The wreckage was partially covered with snow. The discovery of the missing aircraft followed an exhaustive effort by both ground and air searchers from multiple agencies in northwest Wyoming.

During the seven day-long search, a total of nine aircraft and 13 ground teams were involved. Searchers logged a total of about 1,500 man-hours while committed aircraft time was 60 hours. The command and logistics team coordinating the search logged about 2,000 man-hours.

The Fremont County Coroner’s office now assumes management of the recovery operation. Coroner Ed McAuslan said recovery of the crash victims would begin this morning. Once recovered the crash victims will be taken to the Fremont County Morgue in Lander, pending autopsy. Once released, the crash victim’s bodies will be moved to Hudson’s Funeral Home in Lander where arrangements will be made in accordance with the wishes of the family.

Further information will be released after the recovery operation.

The lead agencies that directed the search effort were the Fremont County Search and Rescue Team and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department. Searchers came from across Fremont County and multiple other agencies and organizations were involved, including the National Outdoor Leadership School, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wyoming State Forestry Division, Bureau of Land Management, Civil Air Patrol, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming Army National Guard, Sublette County’s Tip Top Search and Rescue Team, Park County Search and Rescue Team, U.S. Forest Service, City of Lander, Fremont Counseling Service, Wyoming, Inc, the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security and the office of Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal.

“We want to express our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and we thank the many dozens of volunteers and agencies who assisted in this effort,” said Incident Commander Chip Williams of Lander.

The search was the 49th search and rescue operation mounted in Fremont County this year.

  • BJ

    49th search? Wow sounds like a place I don’t want to travel to.