Wreckage Of Missing Plane Found In Central Washington

Ground searchers following the smell of fuel found the wreckage of a plane that crashed in the rugged central Washington Cascades, but neither the pilot nor nine skydivers aboard appeared to have survived.

Jim Hall, director of Yakima Valley Emergency Management, said all on board were believed dead, and that their families were notified.

Seven of the 10 on board "have been found deceased," Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said in a statement, which also said recovery efforts had been suspended for the night but would resume Tuesday.

The aircraft was found about 7:40 p.m. PDT and searchers were able to verify by serial number that it was the missing aircraft, said Yakima Valley Emergency Management spokeswoman Tina Wilson.

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.

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.

When members of the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Team came upon the wreckage they found that the tail section was separated from the rest of the plane, Wilson said. It has not been located.

The names of those aboard have not been released.

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 5-10 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.

Skydive Snohomish 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, south of Seattle 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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