4 dead following plane crash in rugged Arizona mountains
PAYSON, Ariz. (AP) — Searchers in Arizona found the bodies of four members of a family Tuesday in the wreckage of a small plane that crashed on a flight from Scottsdale to Telluride, Colorado, officials said.
Debris from the single-engine Cessna 210 was spotted north of Payson on the rugged Mogollon Rim, Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd said.
The plane had been reported missing Monday night. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, authorities said.
The sheriff’s office verified the plane’s tail number matched Federal Aviation Administration records identifying the owner as Eric Falbe of Scottsdale.
Falbe, 44, was a lawyer who specialized in real estate mediation.
His law partner confirmed that Falbe was aboard the downed plane along with his wife, Carrie, and his two daughters from a previous marriage.
The girls — 14-year-old Victoria and 12-year-old Skylar — attended Cicero Preparatory Academy in Scottsdale.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to the Falbe family for their tragic loss,” school officials said in a statement. “Grief counselors will be available when school returns Monday.”
The sheriff’s office was notified about the missing plane by Scottsdale police.
According to the police report, a man told authorities his 31-year-old daughter, son-in-law and two girls didn’t check in after planning to fly to Telluride.
The four were on a yearly trip they always take around the Christmas holidays, according to relatives.
Police started a search for the family’s cellphone signal, and one was detected near Payson. A state police helicopter, the Civil Air Patrol and sheriff’s searchers on the ground worked together to find the plane.
Rescuers had to hike nearly an hour to the site, Shepherd said.
“The terrain up there is just really super rugged,” he said. “It’s pretty rough, steep, straight up and down.”