RIDGWAY, Colo.: Boats and dive teams were using a remote-controlled rover on Monday to help them find five people feared dead after their plane crashed into the murky, cold waters of a southwestern Colorado reservoir.
The single-engine Socata TBM originated in Gadsden, Ala., and was headed to Montrose, about 25 miles north of the reservoir, when it crashed into the water at Ridgway State Park on Saturday. Officials say it crashed about 90 feet from shore in 60 to 90 feet of water.
Sonar and dive teams have helped searchers locate the wreckage, which is believed to be intact except for the tail, which was recovered Saturday. However dive teams can only see between 5 and 10 feet ahead of them in the reservoir, which contains sediment washed down from the mountains, Ouray (yoo-RAY’) County spokeswoman Marti Whitmore said. They are using the rover to help them zero in on the plane, she said.
Authorities haven’t released the identities of the presumed victims.
The flight took off from Gadsden, Ala., before stopping in Bartlesville, Okla. and resuming its journey to Montrose, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. The cause of the crash isn’t yet known.
According to preliminary reports, the pilot reported that the plane was in a spin before losing communication, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said Monday.
That’s consistent with an eyewitness account from a woman who was attending a wedding nearby when the plane crashed.
“It popped out of the thick, heavy clouds and went into a flat spin,” Lena Martinez told the Ouray County Plaindealer.
Such eyewitness accounts have been turned over to the FAA and the NTSB for their investigations.
The plane is registered to an Alabama corporation. Messages left for the company weren’t immediately returned.
The crash occurred several weeks after three people died when a plane crashed after taking off from the Telluride airport, less than 50 miles south.