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Wreckage of plane found near Richfield; 2 presumed dead

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RICHFIELD — The wreckage of a plane believed to have been carrying a couple from Northern California to Aspen, Colo., is being recovered in Sevier County.

Family members started calling authorities for signs of the overdue plane on Saturday night, hoping the couple had made an emergency landing somewhere, according to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office.

Radar indicated the last place the aircraft was tracked was near the borders of Sevier, Emery and Sanpete counties. In addition to a search from the Civil Air Patrol, family members got a private helicopter and assisted in the search themselves.

The helicopter located a "debris field" Monday in a rugged area in Saleretus Canyon, sheriff's deputies said. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were assisting in the recovery and investigative effort.

There were no reports of survivors. The names of the people traveling were not immediately released.

Sevier County Sheriff Nathan Curtis said the family had held out hope until the wreckage was found. "This isn't what they wanted to find out," he said. "They were hoping to find out that they had landed at an airport somewhere. But (family members) seem to be handling it (well)."

Curtis said the family also takes comfort in knowing the plane's occupants died together.

Investigators believe the plane was caught in a storm, and the pilot was attempting to turn back to the airport when the crash happened. They may not have even seen the mountain before they hit it.

If the pilot and passenger are confirmed as being killed in the crash, it would mark the 14th and 15th people killed in plane crashes in Utah this year. Eleven people were killed in plane crashes in Utah in all of 2011, according to the NTSB.

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Pat Reavy and Dave Cawley


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