Family, Friends Mourn 10 Skydivers Killed in Washington Plane Crash
WHITE PASS, Wash. – Ryan Shipley smiled numbly as he reflected on the lives of 10 members of the skydiving group he regarded as family.
Pilot Phil Kibler was the down-to-earth, reliable guy everyone could count on. Jeff Ross teased and played with all the kids. Hollie Rasberry, new to the group, had just gotten her license and threw herself into being part of the skydiving family. Most either studied or worked for family businesses or Microsoft.
Still others found dream jobs in skydiving, rigging and packing parachutes.
All 10 were fun, adventurous people — and all 10 perished when their airplane nose-dived in central Washington's rugged Cascade Mountains. The group had been traveling home from a weekend skydiving trip in Idaho.
Shipley, a 32-year-old skydiver, said he had traveled with all those who crashed Sunday evening.
"So much undone," Shipley said about his 10 pals from Skydive Snohomish, a company that runs a training school and skydiving flights in Snohomish County. "I want my friends back."
Searchers combing through the plane's wreckage Tuesday found the last three victims.
Seven bodies had been found Monday night after the crash site was located, said Nisha Marvel, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation's aviation division.
"It was a pretty extensive crash site," Marvel said. "The aircraft was in pieces. It's rough, rugged terrain, and it took about 35 volunteers to comb that recovery area today to find the remaining passengers that had died in the crash."
The debris at the remote site indicated the Cessna Caravan 208 crashed after a steep nosedive, Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said.
Mike Robertson, an aviation safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration, said there wasn't an explosion or fire and the plane was found in one spot. Robertson refused to speculate on a cause for the crash or whether weather could have been a factor.
"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.
Robertson said Tuesday's focus was on removing the bodies, and that investigators will turn their attention to the aircraft on Wednesday.
Fighting back tears, Kelly Craig, whose 30-year-old brother Casey died in the crash, said the skydivers had made many jumps over the weekend. He doubted they would have been prepared for an emergency jump, with their parachutes at the ready, on the long flight back.
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.
A hunter in the crash area had alerted authorities Sunday night that a plane might have been in trouble. Tom Peterson of the state Department of Transportation said the hunter saw the aircraft's lights, and "thought the engine sounded like it was working really hard and whining loudly, and then silence after that."
Searchers found the wreckage Monday night after following the scent of fuel to the crash site.
Family, friends and officials said the victims were Casey Craig, of Bothell; Rasberry, 24, of Bellingham; Michelle Barker, 22, of Kirkland; Landon Atkin, 20, of Snohomish; Ross, 28, of Snohomish; Cecil Elsner, 20, of Lake Stevens; Andrew Smith, 20, of Lake Stevens; Bryan Jones, 34, of Redmond; Ralph Abdo, whose age and hometown were unavailable; and Kibler, 46, of the Seattle area.