TELLURIDE, Colo. - Three people were found dead in the wreckage of a small plane Sunday night.
It disappeared shortly after takeoff from the Telluride Airport Sunday morning, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said.
The Beechcraft Bonanza took off from the airport at 11:20 a.m. Sunday en route to Cortez, Colo., in light snow, with 1-mile visibility and calm winds.
A focused search coordinated by the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office began at approximately 12:40 p.m. when air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft. The last communication with the pilot was with Telluride Air Traffic Control from the runway upon take off.
Sheriff deputies, searching in a contracted helicopter, located the aircraft at approximately 5:17 p.m., crashed into a cliff band 1 mile from the runway from where it departed. Units were immediately dispatched to the scene where it was confirmed there were no survivors.
"This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.
Recovery efforts will begin Monday morning.
The San Miguel Country Coroner’s office will release the names of the victims following notification of next-of-kin.
A San Miguel County contracted helicopter, sheriff deputies and a fixed-wing aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol were all actively searching for the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration is sending NTSB investigators to the scene.