Authorities used a bulldozer Saturday as they tried to reach the bodies of four people from Florida who died Friday in a small plane crash in a dense Virginia swamp, state police said.
"The site is in an extremely remote section of the swamp," Corinne N. Geller of the Virginia State Police said in a statement. "None of the four people on board the twin-prop Cessna 340, to include the pilot, survived the crash."
On Friday afternoon, the wreckage of the missing Cessna was located in the Great Dismal Swamp by searchers in a privately-owned helicopter.
Canine teams and a search and recovery dive team joined state police and aerial support in the search for the victims after the Norfolk, Va., air traffic control tower lost the plane's signal Thursday afternoon over the swamp.
The pilot, who had more than 30 years of flight experience, was identified by state police as Theodore Bradshaw, 61, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Passengers included his wife, Mary Anne Bradshaw, 48; Charles Rodd, 64; and Diane Rodd, 58.
The plane left Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport at about 7:45 a.m. ET on Thursday and was scheduled to land around noon at the Hampton Roads Executive Airport in Chesapeake, Va., according to state police.
“We want to express our sincere appreciation to Hampton Roads Helicopters for their critical assistance with this search mission,” Lt. Curtis Hardison of the Virginia State Police Chesapeake Division said in a statement. “They not only supplied us with the necessary aerial support we needed to expedite this search operation, but provided two hours of flight time free of charge. Their generosity also helped bring closure to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic crash.”
The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified, state police said.
All four of the victims remained in the wreckage late Saturday, Geller said.
"Today, crews spent the day clearing a path through the Great Dismal Swamp to the crash site of the plane," Geller told NBC News by email. "Due to the condition of the wreckage, crews will attempt to remove the remains of the pilot and his three passengers tomorrow, along with the plane."
First published October 12 2013, 4:36 PM