Plane, 5 bodies recovered

Alabama victims, including 3 children, pulled from Ridgway Reservoir

Ouray County and federal investigators survey the damage to a Socata TBM700 aircraft Thursday at Ridgway Reservoir near Ridgway. The plane crashed last Saturday in the reservoir, killing all five people onboard, all of them from Gadsden, Ala.

The five victims of a single-engine airplane crash Saturday in Ridgway Reservoir have been recovered from the reservoir and identified by the Ouray County coroner.

The victims are Jimmy Hill, 48, Katrina Barksdale, 40, Kobe Barksdale, 11, Xander Barksdale, 8, and Seth McDuffie, 14, all of Gadsden, Ala., according to the Coroner’s Office. Cause of death had not been determined as of Thursday afternoon.

The five victims were recovered Thursday, along with the Socata TBM700 registered with the Federal Aviation Administration to Gadsden Aviation, LLC. That company title is registered in Hill’s name with the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.

Ouray County spokeswoman Marti Whitmore said via a phone-in press conference Thursday afternoon all of the families of the victims have been notified of their deaths and that the bodies have been recovered from the plane.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the families and to the people of Gadsden,” Whitmore said.

Recovery crews worked diligently to preserve the plane in the best shape possible for investigation purposes, according to Whitmore. She said intermittent snow, rain and sunshine Thursday would not have hurt the recovery effort but high winds “would have been a deal-breaker” for divers. Luckily, winds held off and crews were able to lift the plane off the reservoir floor, stabilize it, bring it through the water to a boat ramp, and turn it over to a shoreline salvage team.

Numerous private and public agencies helped in the recovery effort at Ridgway Reservoir, including emergency personnel from Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Montrose counties.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, although Whitmore said it may take a long time for a determination to be made.

Ridgway State Park, which has been closed during recovery efforts, will reopen today.


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