DENVER (AP) – The bodies of five people were found inside the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed into a cold, murky reservoir in southwestern Colorado over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
The wreckage will have to be brought to shore before the bodies can be removed, Ouray County spokeswoman Marti Whitmore said. The plane is about 60 or 70 feet underwater and upside down in about 3 feet of silt, officials said.
A salvage team is expected to begin raising the wreckage on Wednesday. The bodies were spotted with a remote-control video camera, and divers confirmed them, Whitmore said.
Authorities haven’t released the identities of the victims but said the flight originated in Gadsden, Ala.
The single-engine Socata TBM700 crashed at about 2 p.m. Saturday into Ridgway Reservoir, about 25 miles south of Montrose and about 180 miles southwest of Denver.
The plane was bound for Montrose and had made an intermediate stop in Bartlesville, Okla., 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 tail separated from the plane but the rest of the wreckage was relatively complete, although damaged, authorities said. Sheriff Dominic Mattivi said one wing was nearly severed.
The plane is registered to an Alabama corporation. Messages left for the company weren’t immediately returned.
In Alabama, a makeshift memorial appeared outside Gadsden’s Mitchell Elementary School for two boys thought to have been on the plane.
Two small football helmets, two teddy bears, flowers and candles were piled among written notes from classmates.
Stephen Powell of Gadsden brought his 9-year-old son to the memorial Monday afternoon. Powell said he had to make two stops because his son was too upset to get out of the car the first time.
– By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
Associated Press Writers Kim Chandler in Gadsden, Ala., and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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