WHITE PASS, Wash. — Searchers combing through wreckage Tuesday found the last three victims among 10 killed when their plane crashed in Washington's rugged central Cascade Range on their way home from a skydiving event.
Bodies of seven of the 10 people aboard were found Monday. Recovery crews found the rest on Tuesday, said Nisha Marvel, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation's aviation division.
"It's rough rugged terrain, and it took about 35 volunteers to comb that recovery area today to find the remaining passengers," Marvel said.
The debris at the remote crash site indicated that the Cessna Caravan 208 went down in a steep nosedive, Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin told a news conference at a command center.
The plane left Star, Idaho, near Boise, on Sunday evening en route to Shelton, Wash., northwest of Olympia, but did not arrive. It had been returning from a skydiving meet in Idaho when it disappeared.
It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to crash.
"We have radar information that shows the rapid descent but other than that we have really no hard evidence as to what caused it," Marvel said.
Fighting back tears, Kelly Craig, whose 30-year-old brother, Casey, died in the crash, said the skydivers on board had made lots of jumps over the weekend. He doubted that they would have been prepared for an emergency jump, because it was unlikely they were strapped into parachutes and wearing goggles on their way home.
The plane crashed just east of the crest of the Cascades, about five miles south of White Pass and on the edge of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, said Wayne Frudd of Yakima County Search and Rescue. The crash site is about 25 miles southeast of Mount Rainier.
"I'm told it was a horrific sight and the airplane crashed at a fairly high speed," said Jim Hall, director of Yakima Valley Emergency Management.
The wreckage was found about an hour after dark Monday by searchers on the ground following the smell of fuel.
A hunter who reported seeing a low-flying plane then hearing a crash said the engine sounded like it was working hard and whining as the aircraft went down, said Tom Peterson, aviation and emergency services coordinator for the state Department of Transportation.
The plane, a single-engine turboprop built in 1994, was found within 200 yards of its last radar ping in rugged terrain at an elevation of 4,300 feet. The crash site measured about 100 feet by 60 feet, indicating that the plane probably went straight down, said Irwin, the sheriff.
There was no explosion or fire, said Mike Robertson, a safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration. "As far as we can tell the plane is all in one spot."
Family, friends and officials said the victims were Casey Craig, of Bothell; Hollie Rasberry, 24, of Bellingham; Michelle Barker, 21, of Kirkland; Landon Atkin, 20, of Snohomish; Jeff Ross, 28, of Snohomish; Cecil Elsner, 20, of Lake Stevens; Andrew Smith, 20, of Lake Stevens; Bryan Jones, 34, of Redmond; Ralph Abdo, whose age and hometown were unavailable; and pilot Phil Kibler, 46, of the Seattle area.
The nine skydivers were affiliated with Skydive Snohomish, a company that operates a training school and skydiving flights at Harvey Field in Snohomish County, about 20 miles north of Seattle.
Skydive Snohomish had nothing to do with the flight to Idaho or the event held there, said Elaine Harvey, co-owner of the company.
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.
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