Plane, 5 bodies submerged in Ridgway Reservoir

Ouray County Sheriff Dominic “Junior” Mattivi gives details Sunday of the investigation of a plane crash at the Ridgway Reservoir a day earlier. Searchers determined the location of the plane and expected help today to recover the aircraft and the bodies of five people who were on board.

Divers and sonar images taken Sunday confirmed the location of a single-engine airplane that crashed into Ridgway Reservoir on Saturday afternoon, but the plane and the bodies of its five passengers had yet to be recovered Sunday night.

Recovery operations focused Sunday on locating the plane, which crashed shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday en route from Bartlesville, Okla. to Montrose, and determining how best to recover the bodies of the five people believed to have died in the crash, according to a release from Ouray County spokeswoman Marti Whitmore. The Socata TBM700 that crashed is registered to an Alabama corporation.

The names of the five people aboard have yet to be released, but the Gadsden Times of Gadsden, Ala., reported Sunday that the victims are believed to be three adults and two children from Gadsden, a city about 120 miles west of Atlanta. There are just four Socata TBM700’s registered to Alabama corporations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, including one in Gadsden, Gadsden Aviation LLC.

It is believed the body of the plane and its wings are intact but remain below water. Additional dive crews and equipment are expected to arrive “as quickly as possible” to assist with recovery efforts, according to Ouray County.

The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office has taken statements from eye-witnesses to the crash to assist with investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration. It may take weeks or months to determine the cause of the crash, according to Ian Gregor, spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration Pacific Division.

Ridgway State Park remains closed to the public through at least part of today while recovery efforts continue.

The crash is yet another link in a chain of recent aircraft crashes in western Colorado. Two men walked away from a single-engine airplane crash March 14 in the Bookcliffs. Before that:

■ A 50-year-old Crested Butte man was uninjured when his single-engine airplane crashed into a fence Oct. 13 at Telluride Regional Airport.

■ A single-engine airplane bound from California to Aspen crashed near Cedaredge on Nov. 19, killing the pilot.

■ Jason Cook, 36, of Montrose, died Nov. 29 in a single-engine plane crash northeast of Delta’s Blake Field Airport.

■ Dana Brewer, 49, of Clifton; William Kennon, 47, of Collbran; and Richard “Jim” Platz, 47, of Fruita died in a single-engine airplane crash Dec. 12 east of Collbran.

■ Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico died Jan. 5 in a private jet crash at Aspen Airport. Two other men on the plane, Miguel Henriqez and Moises Carranza, both of Mexico, were injured.

■ On Jan. 27, three people died when a helicopter struck a power line and crashed south of Silt. The deceased were identified as Doug Sheffer of Basalt, Larry Shaffer of Rifle, and Chris Gaskill of Aurora.

■ Three Arizona residents died Feb. 16 in a plane crash west of Telluride Regional Airport.


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