Image: Burned wreckage
Douglas C. Pizac  /  AP
Burned wreckage of a small plane lies on a hillside Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008, northwest of Moab, Utah. The pilot and all 9 passengers died when the aircraft went down Friday night after taking off from a nearby airport.
updated 8/23/2008 9:26:47 PM ET 2008-08-24T01:26:47

Investigators had little more than ash and blackened shards of metal to sift through on Sunday as they tried to figure out what caused a twin-engine plane to crash shortly after taking off, killing all 10 people on board.

"The aircraft was pretty much consumed by fire," said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. "When there aren't identifiable pieces, sometimes we don't know right away what was working and what wasn't working."

An NTSB crew planned to move what was left of the wreckage to a place where it could be laid out and closely examined. A preliminary crash report could be finished late this week or early next, Holloway said Sunday, two days after nine members of a dermatology clinic and the pilot who was flying them died in eastern Utah.

Moab was one of nine regular stops for the team from Southwest Skin and Cancer/Red Canyon Aesthetics & Medical Spa in Cedar City, a rapidly growing city of 28,000 in southwestern Utah. The company had satellite offices in Utah, northern Arizona and Nevada, providing skin treatment in small, remote communities.

'Hearts are broken'
"Our hearts are broken," said Dane Leavitt, a friend of many on the trip and CEO of the company that owned the plane.

Two of the victims were adult children traveling with their fathers. Another was a 20-year-old woman who got engaged to be married the night before. By Sunday morning, a blog set up for the families had dozens of comments offering condolences.

"Everybody's having a hard time. It's hard to put into words how devastating this is," Rand Colbert, a doctor at the clinic, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

The twin-engine Beech King Air A-100 had taken off Friday evening from Canyonlands Field airport, 18 miles northwest of Moab. It hit the ground in nearby hills, flattened and exploded on impact, authorities said.

Emergency responders rushed to the site to search for possible survivors and fight a brush fire apparently sparked by the crash.

Grand County Sheriff James Nyland identified those killed as pilot David White; the company's director, Dr. Lansing Ellsworth, 50, and his son Dallin Ellsworth, 23; David Goddard, 60, and his daughter Cecilee Goddard, 31; Mandy Johnson; Marcie Tillery, 29; Valerie Imlay, 52; Keith Shumway, 29; and Camie Vigil, 25.

"It is with disbelief that we struggle to comprehend the events of yesterday," the Ellsworth family said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon. Those from the company "provided much needed dermatology care to patients who might otherwise go without."

Linda Snow, the company's office manager in Cedar City, said, "We are just deeply saddened. These are individuals that were highly skilled and very professional in what they do, and they will be missed."

The airplane is owned by Leavitt Group Wings, part of the Cedar City-based Leavitt Group, an insurance brokerage. The dermatology group had a time-share agreement for use of the plane, said CEO Dane Leavitt.

Pilot David White was a Leavitt Group Wings employee, Leavitt said.

"He was very well qualified. He'd flown that plane for hundreds of hours. He'd flown this route many times," Leavitt said.

The airplane was built in 1975 and was well-maintained, Leavitt said. His company has owned it for six years.

Moab is about 245 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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