DENVER (AP) – The bodies of five people from Alabama were pulled from a southwestern Colorado reservoir on Thursday, five days after a single-engine plane crashed into the cold, murky water.
Ouray County officials identified the dead as Jimmy Hill, 48; Katrina Barksdale, 40; Barksdale’s sons, 11-year-old Kobe and 8-year-old Xander; and Barksdale’s 14-year-old nephew, Seth McDuffie.
All were from Gadsden, Ala., where the flight originated.
The plane crashed Saturday on a flight bound for Montrose, about 25 miles north of the reservoir. Federal aviation investigators are looking for the cause.
The wreckage was upside down and partially buried in silt under about 60 feet of water.
Investigators haven’t said who was the pilot, but Fred Sington, Hill’s friend, said Hill owned the airplane.
“He was a good pilot. I feel 99.9 percent certain he did everything possible,” Sington said.
The group was on a spring break skiing trip, Sington said.
Hill was president of Gadsden Tool and owner of the Airport Cafe. He was smart and innovative, said Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority.
Hill was president of the group’s board.
“He always had a smile on his face and could deal on equal footing with people from all walks of life,” McCain said.
Katrina Barksdale was a buoyant woman who could lift the spirits of anyone around her, said Tara Williams Hollingsworth, a childhood friend from Lake City, Fla., where Barksdale grew up.
“You were never down for long when she was around. She was joy personified,” Hollingsworth told the Lake City Reporter.
Kobe and Xander Barksdale were students at Mitchell Elementary School, where a makeshift memorial appeared after the crash.
“They were sweet people,” said Stephen Powell, whose 9-year-old son knew one of the brothers.
Their cousin Seth attended Westbrook Christian School, where a weekend vigil drew a crowd.
“Even with everyone out and all over the place on spring break, people came,” school administrator Cindy Greer told The Gadsden Times. “That’s how much he meant to people.”
– 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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