Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Private plane crashes in US, seven bodies found

DISAPPEARED After the plane vanished from radar, a rescue team had to follow the smell of fuel to locate the wreckage in the rugged mountains of Washington state

AP AND NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , SEATTLE AND YAKIMA, WASHINGTON

Seven bodies were recovered from the wreckage of a plane that crashed in the Cascade Mountains, and authorities said the other three people aboard were likely dead.

Searchers who located the wreckage on Monday night were able to verify by serial number that it was the plane carrying nine skydivers and a pilot that went missing a day earlier, said Tina Wilson, a Yakima Valley Emergency Management spokeswoman.

The names of those aboard were not released. Jim Hall, director of Yakima Valley Emergency Management, said none appeared to have survived and that their families were notified.

Seven people on board "have been found deceased," Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said in a statement. Recovery efforts were suspended for the night but were to resume Tuesday.

The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan left Star, Idaho, near Boise, Sunday evening en route to Shelton, Washington. The plane was returning from a skydiving meet.

The plane left Idaho 7:30pm and was due in Shelton before 11pm. It stopped appearing on radar near Rimrock Lake, where a hunter reported seeing a plane and hearing a crash.

Members of the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Team following the smell of fuel found the wreckage in the rugged mountains, Wilson said.

The tail section was separated from the rest of the plane and was not immediately located, she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was to begin an investigation yesterday.

One man at a Red Cross center at White Pass said his 30-year-old son was aboard the plane. He displayed a family photo of the young man skydiving with a brother and sister.

"He worked hard and he played hard -- we just want to find him," said the father, who did not give his name.

Elaine Harvey, co-owner of skydiving company Skydive Snohomish, told the Seattle Times that nine of the 10 aboard were either employees of her business or else licensed skydivers who considered Snohomish to be their "home drop zone."

Skydive Snohomish operates a training school and offers skydiving flights.

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