2 Dead After Plane Crashes in Washington Mountains

A man and a woman died Friday when their small plane crashed in the Cascade mountains of central Washington.

The wreckage of the four-seat Lancair ES was found Friday evening in Kittitas County about 10 miles south of Easton, said Nisha Marvel of the state Department of Transportation's aviation division. It had dropped out of radar and radio contact with air traffic controllers about 3 p.m. Friday.

Campers in the area reported hearing a low-flying aircraft around that time.

Searchers found the bodies about 5:35 p.m. in a debris field estimated to be a half-mile long and a quarter-mile wide. The bodies were located about 100 feet from the fuselage.

The victims were not immediately identified pending notification of relatives.

The airplane was registered to Eugene C. Long of Lafayette, Colo.

The plane was en route from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Mountain Home, Idaho, where it was scheduled to arrive about 4 p.m. Friday, according to the state Transportation Department's aviation division and Kittitas County authorities.

Marvel said she had no reports that the pilot made any distress call.

The single-engine plane was built in 2004, according to an aircraft data base. It was built from a kit and was considered an experimental aircraft.

Mark Hergert, 49, of Spanaway, Wash., was camping with his wife south of the crash site when he heard the light plane pass by and then heard a sound he described as a "boof."

"I knew that was the sound of an airplane crashing," Hergert told the Yakima Herald-Republic. He rode his motorcycle up a trail until he found debris, then rode back to alert authorities.

Campers in five different campgrounds called to report the crash, said Pam Berry, a volunteer with the Nile-Cliffdell Fire Department.

After locating the bodies, searchers decided to leave the scene to protect the evidence until federal authorities could arrive Saturday to begin their investigation.

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