US Highland executives die in plane crash

Company founder, COO and CFO killed in Tulsa crash

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jul. 12, 2010
A plane crash near Tulsa, Okla., claimed the lives of three executives of motorcycle manufacturer US Highland.

US Highland President and founder Mats Malmberg, 41, Chief Operating Officer Chase Bales, 51, and Chief Financial Officer Damian Riddoch, 37, were returning to Tulsa July 10 after a business trip in Detroit. The three were en route to Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa on a fixed-wing multi-engine Cessna.

At around 10 p.m., Bales, the pilot and owner of the plane, requested an emergency landing at Tulsa International Airport, reporting the aircraft was low on fuel. The plane crashed shortly after in a wooded area in Mohawk Park, 2,000 yards northeast of Tulsa International Airport. According to local authorities, Malmberg survived the crash but died shortly after being rushed to hospital.

A former motocross racer, Malmberg founded Highland Motorcycles AB in Sweden in 1997. After an agreement with sell the company to ATK fell through, Malmberg teamed up with Bales, a fellow motocross racer and venture capitalist, and relocated the company to Oklahoma, renaming it US Highland.

Malmberg is survived by his wife and three children, Bales is survived by his wife and two children, and Riddoch is survived by his wife and four children.

The 2010 US Highland 950 Viking.

This is a human tragedy beyond imagination. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, says Dr. Steven A. Moell, chief executive officer of US Highland. No words can describe the loss the families are experiencing. It was an honor to work with these three men and I know they would want us to continue to build US Highland into a leading U.S. powersports company. They were all true visionaries and will be deeply missed.

US Highland was beginning to build traction, opening a new 33,000 square foot factory in Tulsa on June 1. The company produces a range of 250cc to 500cc off-road and supermoto models, as well as 750cc to 1050cc V-Twin streetbikes. US Highland is also entering the electric motorcycle segment, announcing July 1 it will use magnetic hub motors.

I know everyone including myself at US Highland will sincerely miss Mats, Chase and Damian, says Bengt Andersson, chairman of US Highland. I always had a strong respect for their work ethic and strong level of integrity. My deepest condolences go out to their families.

The National Transportation and Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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