Crews locate all 5 Ridgway Reservoir plane crash victims

RIDGWAY - The bodies of all five victims of a small plane crash into the Ridgway Reservoir were located Monday. The Ouray County Sheriff's Office says recovery divers found the victims inside the fuselage using remote video images.

Authorities say the wreckage will have to be brought to shore before the bodies can be removed. They say the plane is upside down in about 3 feet of silt and about 60 or 70 feet underwater. Recovery operations for Monday have ended.

A salvage team is expected to begin raising the wreckage on Wednesday.

The single-engine Socata originated in Gadsden, Ala., and was headed to Montrose when it crashed into the water Saturday.

Witnesses reported hearing the plane's engine cutting in and out before the engine stopped. The plane then spiraled out of clouds and crashed into the lake, according to witness accounts. Sheriff officials say the impact caused damage to the cabin.

The weather was windy with a mix of rain and snow on Saturday when plane went down.

A 9NEWS affiliate in Alabama reports two of the victims were students at an elementary school in Gadsen, about an hour north of Birmingham.

Classmates of Kobe and Xander Barksdale remembered them with flowers, football helmets and candles. Their mother, Katrina Barksdale, is also believed to be killed in the crash, along with another young boy, Seth McDuffie.

The pilot, Jimmie Hill, was a well known business owner in Alabama. Hill is the president of Gadsden Tool and owns several other businesses in the area.

"He didn't just jump into a high-performance airplane; he worked his way up," Hill's friend John Tomik said. "He owned several smaller plans and was a very accomplished pilot. Unfortunately, like a bad car accident, sometimes these things happen."

The names of the victims have not been officially released by the Ouray County Sheriff's Office.

The Ouray County Sheriff's Office says diving at the altitude the reservoir is at is riskier because of decompression sickness. It's very difficult for crews, especially with fine silt particles.

The NTSB and FAA will be on site Wednesday. The cause of the crash isn't yet known.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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