Two bodies were recovered Sunday from the crash site of a single-engine plane that went down Saturday afternoon with four passengers aboard near Silverton.
Kristina Maxfield, San Juan Countys emergency manager, said no one survived the crash.
The plane crashed in a rugged, heavily forested area about 11,000 feet above sea level, she said. A search team reached the crash site Sunday and found two bodies, which were carried to waiting vehicles. She and Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus both confirmed to The Associated Press that there were no survivors.
Neither elaborated about how they knew the other two passengers were dead, but Fergus said the debris field covered 1¼ miles.
Authorities were not yet able to determine the gender or identity of either of the recovered victims, and none of the victims names were released Sunday, Maxfield said. Identities would not be released until after autopsies, she said.
An autopsy is scheduled to take place this afternoon, said Dan Bender, who is acting as the public information officer on scene for the San Juan County Sheriffs Office and the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.
According to Avitop.com, a private website that links tail numbers with FAA registry listings, the plane was a Socata TB-21 registered to Stephen W. Osborne of Durango.
The plane crashed Saturday afternoon about 1½ miles outside Silverton, Maxfield said.
A number of people in the Silverton area heard the plane, which was flying from Durango to Aspen, Bender said. People could not, however, see the low-flying plane because of the snow, he said.
The plane left Durango around 1:30 p.m. Saturday. After receiving reports about an overdue, missing plane, authorities were able to locate it north of Silverton using the signal from an Emergency Locator Transmitter, Bender said. The signal came in around 2:20 p.m.
Initial recovery efforts ended around sundown Saturday, Maxfield said. Crews returned to the scene at 8 a.m. Sunday, but at 3:25 p.m., they were forced to postpone further efforts until this morning because of deteriorating weather conditions and poor visibility, she said.
A scent dog brought Sunday by the Dolores K-9 Search and Rescue team was invaluable to crews in locating the two bodies, she said.
The San Juan County Sheriffs Department requested assistance from the La Plata County Search and Rescue team to aid in the recovery effort Sunday, Bender said.
Officials plan to meet this morning to discuss plans for further recovery efforts, he said.
The weather will dictate what will happen (today), he said.
This was the second fatal plane crash near Silverton this year. A pilot and passenger were killed in the July 14 crash of a small plane.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown and is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Bender said.
Trying to fly a single-engine aircraft with very poor visibility in a snowstorm in the mountains is problematic, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. email@example.com