Deputies hiked over miles of rugged, steep terrain Thursday to recover the bodies of a man and woman who died when a light plane crashed northeast of Julian during a flight from Palm Springs to Gillespie Field.
The crews removed the unidentified remains from the crash site in Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve about 3:15 p.m., sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said. It was not immediately clear how the personnel would get the bodies out of the remote area to a spot where the county Medical Examiner's Office could take custody of them.
The single-engine Mooney M20E was reported missing about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday by Gillespie Field officials, who told deputies that contact with the plane had been lost while it was over the East County highlands, sheriff's Lt. Dave Schaller said.
Authorities initially were going to use helicopters in the search but scrubbed that plan because of prevailing sleet, light snow and high winds in the area where the aircraft was last known to be flying.
Ground teams were dispatched instead, using coordinates obtained from a signal off the pilot's cell phone.
About 12:45 this morning, the search-and-rescue personnel found the wreckage of the plane, which was registered to 55-year-old Andrew Thulin of San Diego.
- City News Service