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UND grad confirmed dead in Arizona plane crash

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A graduate from the University of North Dakota was one of six people that died when a plane crashed in Arizona this week.

Erik Valente, 32, graduated from the aviation management program at UND in 2009.

The plane crashed on a golf course after taking off from the Scottsdale Airport on Monday, April 9.

The aircraft, a Piper PA24 Comanche, was headed for Las Vegas.

Valente is from Las Vegas, according to his Facebook page.

The other passengers were Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 23, Anand Patel, 26, Helena Lagos, 22, Iris Rodriguez Garcia, 23, and James Pedroza, 28.

Pedroza, a pilot-in-training, appears to have been a part-owner of the plane. Coogan and Patel were known as popular members of the social media platform Instagram, where they each had tens of thousands of followers.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it is still investigating the crash and has not confirmed whether Valente or Pedroza was flying the plane.

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