The identities of four Californians who died in a plane crash Sunday north of Purgatory Resort were released Tuesday, two of whom weren't rated to fly the aircraft.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office listed those who perished as pilot Harold Joseph Raggio and Steven Dale Wilkinson, of Newberry Springs; Rosalinda Leslie of Hesperia; and Michael Lyle Riley of Barstow, who also is a pilot.
The plane crashed about 2 p.m. Sunday and was found at 11,500 feet in the upper limits of the Cascade Creek on the east side of the canyon, inaccessible from road or trails. A sheriff's office post to Facebook said four rescuers were flown in by helicopter to look for signs of life. The next morning, additional emergency crews arrived on scene, knowing none of the passengers had survived.
"Through great effort, the rescuers were able to confirm the identities, and bring home the remains of all four victims," the Facebook post says. The sheriff's office is communicating with media only via social media.
Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the two pilots on board were rated to fly single-engine aircrafts - not the multi-engine Cessna 310 that crashed.
Multi-engine aircraft are more complex to operate, and can be more difficult to handle during emergencies, Knudson said.
Officials plan to bring down the wreckage on Thursday to an accessible location for a federal investigator to detail. Knudson said the debris field was 300 yards long. A preliminary report will be available within two weeks, but a final report could take a year.
Officials confirmed the aircraft left Barstow on Sunday morning en route to San Antonio - not Amarillo as previously reported. The plane was last seen refueling in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Knudson said the pilots were not on a flight plan or communicating with flight traffic control. Instead, he said, pilots navigated by sight.
A variety of factors - including weather, proper training, and equipment failure - will be taken into account during the investigation.
In addition to the sheriff's office, Civil Air Patrol, the Air National Guard and La Plata County Search and Rescue all took part in the emergency response. The NTSB and FAA are handling the investigation.
In 2013, Raggio and Riley were included on the FAA's Airmen Certification Database, a list of pilots who have "met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards," set by the federal agency. It was not immediately known whether they had any training for multi-engine aircraft, and had not reached a "rated" status.