Three remaining victims found near wreckage of crash

WHITE PASS, Wash. – Searchers combing through wreckage yesterday found the last three victims among 10 killed when their plane crashed in Washington’s rugged central Cascade Range on their way home from a skydiving event.

Bodies of seven of the 10 people aboard were found Monday. Recovery crews found the rest yesterday, said Nisha Marvel, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation’s aviation division.

“It’s rough rugged terrain, and it took about 35 volunteers to comb that recovery area today to find the remaining passengers,” Marvel said.

The debris at the remote crash site indicated that the Cessna Caravan 208 went down in a steep nosedive, Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin told a news conference at a command center.

The plane left Star, Idaho, near Boise, on Sunday evening en route to Shelton, Wash., northwest of Olympia, but did not arrive. It had been returning from a skydiving meet in Idaho when it disappeared.

It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to crash.

“We have radar information that shows the rapid descent but other than that we have really no hard evidence as to what caused it,” Marvel said.

Fighting back tears, Kelly Craig, whose 30-year-old brother, Casey, died in the crash, said the skydivers on board had made lots of jumps over the weekend. He doubted that they would have been prepared for an emergency jump, because it was unlikely they were strapped into parachutes and wearing goggles on their way home.

The plane crashed just east of the crest of the Cascades, about five miles south of White Pass and on the edge of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, said Wayne Frudd of Yakima County Search and Rescue. The crash site is about 25 miles southeast of Mount Rainier.

“I’m told it was a horrific sight and the airplane crashed at a fairly high speed,” said Jim Hall, director of Yakima Valley Emergency Management.

The wreckage was found about an hour after dark Monday by searchers on the ground following the smell of fuel.