National Nut Grower National Nut Grower

Aug 3, 2021
Colusa County almond farmer and his wife among helicopter crash victims

A prominent Colusa County, California, almond farmer and his wife have been identified among the four people killed in an Aug. 1 helicopter crash.

According to a report by KCRA-TV, Bill Vann, 67, the owner of Vann Family Orchards, and Susie Vann, 60, died in the crash along with two friends, according to a statement released by the family.

The couple were from Williams, the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office said. The office identified the other two people on board the helicopter as Bobbie Lee Keaton, 62, also from Williams, and Charles Thomas Wilson, 71, from Rocklin.

The KCRA-TV report indicated Bill partnered with his brother Garnett Vann in 1973 to farm 40 acres of wheat and the business later expanded to almonds, walnuts and pistachios. The company now farms more than 17,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley, contracts with more than 100 growers and employs more than 200 people around the region, according to the family.

“Bill was a hands-on partner who loved both farming and business. For him, being actively involved in every step of the operation made him the happiest,” Garnett Vann said in a news release. “His loss is a shock to our family, our employees and our fellow growers. Despite this tragic accident, the business will continue to move forward as we have been planning for the future for quite some time.”

Charles Thomas Wilson was known by loved ones as “Chuck.” His wife Beverly told KCRA 3 he worked in highway improvement. She says they recently moved to Rocklin from Nevada City to be safer from the wildfires.

Christopher Wilson, the couple’s neighbor, said Beverly was home alone on Monday afternoon when she received news of her husband’s death, around 24 hours after the crash.

The television station also reported:

The helicopter crashed Sunday around 1:15 p.m. in a field near Highway 45 at Reservation Road, right by the Sacramento River. The Federal Aviation Administration said the helicopter was a Robinson R66.

Deputies and Sacramento River Fire personnel found the passengers still inside the helicopter and declared all four dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating.

A flag could be seen flying at half-mast outside Vann Family Orchards in Colusa on Monday.

Richard Waycott, president and chief executive officer of the Almond Board of California, called the Vann family “a leader in the California almond business” and said the family has grown the industry’s stature.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to all Vann family members,” he said in a statement.

Bill and Susie Vann are survived by four children and seven grandchildren.

The family is planning funeral services.

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