All six passengers on board the plane that crashed in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona are confirmed dead, authorities report. The dead include three young children whose mother was the ex-wife of the pilot flying the aircraft. The two remaining passengers are also presumed to be relatives.
Plane Destroyed on Impact
A Thanksgiving holiday trip for the six people on board ended in tragedy on Wednesday when the plane hit a sheer cliff jutting out of the Arizona mountains. Witnesses told AP they saw a mushroom-shaped explosion after hearing the plane revving tis engine, presumably in an attempt to climb higher.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu confirmed that all six were killed in the plane crash, though rescue workers are still searching for the physical remains of the victims.
The dead include the pilot, his three children aged 5 to 9 years old, and two other men. The pilot had flown to Phoenix to pick up his kids from his ex-wife for the holidays.
It was pitch black when the plane approached the Superstition Mountain's highest point, where elevation is at about 5,000 feet. The plane did not appear to be in any distress before the crash, and the pilot did not radio any officials about any problems. It appears the plane simply missed clearing the peak in the darkness.
Rescue crews were flown in by helicopter following news of crash. Officials reports finding two debris fields burning for hours after the crash, suggesting that the plane was torn apart by the impact.
Mother Left Devastated
This is their entire family — it's terrible, Babeu said. Our hearts go out to the mom and the [families] of all the crash victims.
The mother of the children was not available for comments, but is left devastated by the Superstition Mountains plane crash. She is also a pilot, and lives in Mesa, Ariz.
The body of one child has already been recovered. Search and rescue personnel are working to recover the remains of the other victims. Police officials say they are able to confirm the remaining passengers are dead. The two adult men with the pilot are presumed to be relatives as well, officials say.
It's traumatic for any parent to hear this, and then just the nature of the crash is horrific, Babeu told The Daily News. We just want to be there for her and love her and embrace her during this difficult time at Thanksgiving.
The pilot of the plane lived in Safford, Ariz. and owned a small aviation business. His children were two boys and a girl, all aged five to nine.