7 Bodies Found After Wash. Plane Crash

By: AP
By: AP

YAKIMA, Wash. - Rescuers searched the rugged Cascade Mountains Tuesday for the last victims of a plane crash that likely killed 10 people flying home from a skydiving event.

Three people were still missing, but authorities said it was unlikely there were survivors.

Searchers found the wreckage Monday night after following the scent of fuel to the crash site. They 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.

A 25-member crew remained in the woods overnight and additional searchers gathered at daybreak Tuesday to resume the recovery effort, the Yakima County sheriff's office said. Approximately 25 more people joined the search Tuesday morning, officials said.

The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan left Star, Idaho, near Boise, Sunday evening en route to Shelton, Wash., northwest of Olympia. The plane was returning from a skydiving meet in Idaho when it crashed.

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.

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.

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. Seven bodies were found amid the wreckage, authorities said.

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

Based on radar transmissions and a hunter's report of seeing a plane flying low Sunday evening and then hearing a crash, the search was focused on a steep, densely forested area near White Pass, about 45 miles west of Yakima.

The search was centered in a relatively small area of 5 to 10 square miles along the north fork of the Tieton River.

Elaine Harvey, co-owner of the 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 their "home drop zone."

Skydive Snohomish operates a training school and offers skydiving flights at Harvey Field in Snohomish County, about 20 miles north of Seattle.

The company had nothing to do with the flight to Idaho or the event held there, Harvey said.

"These people were beloved friends," she told the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Harvey did not return telephone messages from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.

The plane was registered to Kapowsin Air Sports of Shelton, located near Olympia.

Geoff Farrington, Kapowsin's co-owner, said the family-owned company had never before lost a plane. He also said the plane had never experienced mechanical problems.

The single-engine plane was built in 1994, according to FAA records.

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