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San Juan County Sheriff's Office

Colo. man killed in plane accident in San Juan County

By Faith Heaton Jolley | Posted - Jun 19th, 2014 @ 10:42pm


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SAN JUAN COUNTY — A man was killed Thursday afternoon after his plane crashed in the La Sal Mountains in San Juan County.

Around 9 a.m., two small planes began flying from Durango, Colorado to the Idaho backcountry, according to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office. A fuel stop was planned for Brigham City, but one plane went missing before landing at the airstrip.

The plane was found around 2 p.m. in the La Sal Mountains in San Juan County, officials said. The pilot, 62-year-old Miles Reece of Bayfield, Colorado, was killed in the accident. Officials said Reece had been flying to Idaho to go camping with the pilot of the other plane, Douglas Berry of New Mexico.

Officials said Reece and Berry were in radio contact with each other for most of the flight, but were not in visual contact. The Grand Junction radar tower had the two planes in radar visual, but lost a visual on both planes when they entered the La Sal Mountain Range in San Juan County. Berry's plane came back into radar view once the plane cleared the mountain range, but Reece's plane never returned to view, officials said.

Berry attempted to make radio contact with Reece, and flew back to where he had last seen Reece. When Berry couldn't find Reece, he landed in Brigham City and contacted the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

A DPS helicopter and two civil air patrol planes helped in the search for Reece's plane. Reece's body will be flown to the Spanish Valley area and then transported to the medical examiner's office in Salt Lake City.

Reece had been flying a 1958 blue and white, single engine 175 Cessna. Officials said Reece was an experienced pilot and aircraft mechanic who had made the trip over the same route several times.

San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge said Reece was traveling alone and only had camping gear with him. He had four locating devices on his plane but none of them were turned on. Eldredge said searchers were able to spot the plane visually.

The FAA will continue the investigation of what caused the accident. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Contributing: Emilee Eagar

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