Posted: Feb 16, 2014 7:31 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2014 7:31 PM
DENVER (AP) All three people aboard a small private plane perished in a crash close to Telluride Regional Airport, Colorado authorities said Sunday night.
The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza took off from the airport at 11:20 a.m. Sunday on its way to Cortez, a city in southwest Colorado about 75 miles away, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a news release.
Air traffic control at the Telluride and Denver airports lost contact with the plane, prompting a search by the sheriff's office at 12:40 p.m. It was found crashed into a cliff band about a mile west of the airport at 5:17 p.m. Deputies confirmed there were no survivors.
"This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," Masters said.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. Masters says there was light snow, with visibility of 1 mile and light winds during takeoff.
Masters says the last communication with the pilot was from the runway during takeoff.
The sheriff said recovery efforts will start Monday and that the county coroner's office was expected to release the identities of those killed once family is notified.
The sheriff's office said deputies, a fixed-wing aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol and a helicopter it contracted, took part in the hourslong search.
Airport officials and the Telluride fire chief referred questions to the sheriff's office.
The FAA and NTSB will investigate this accident, Gregor said.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com