Two people were found dead Friday in the wreckage of a small plane that crashed in a rugged backcountry area at the eastern edge of Santa Barbara County, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Emergency crews responded at about 10:40 p.m. Thursday following a report that the plane, which had reported experiencing engine trouble, had gone down west of Highway 33 and south of New Cuyama in the Don Victor Valley area, said Kelly Hoover, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.
Personnel from both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were dispatched to search for the aircraft, Hoover said.
The plane was a Cessna 182, according to Capt. Mike Lindberg of the Ventura County Fire Department, and crashed sometime after 10 p.m.
A Ventura County helicopter located the plane’s wreckage at about 4:30 a.m. Friday just north of Jameson Lake in the upper Santa Ynez River drainage, Hoover said.
“Due to the remote area and rugged terrain, responders were not able to gain access to the plane crash site until approximately 7 a.m.,” Hoover said. “When they did arrive at the site, personnel from the Ventura County Air Unit discovered the body of the pilot in the aircraft and no survivors.”
Officials initially reported that only the pilot had been killed.
But late Friday afternoon, Hoover reported that a second victim had been found in the wreckage.
Both are men in their 50s or 60s, and coroner’s personnel were working to positively identify them, she added.
“Due to the precarious position of the aircraft, responders are currently assessing the scene in order to determine how to safely extricate the victims,” Hoover said.
Sources told Noozhawk the plane had departed San Luis Obispo en route to San Diego, but that could not be confirmed.
Radar contact with the plane was lost over Los Padres National Forest, but at one point authorities believed the aircraft may actually have gone down in the ocean, and the U.S. Coast Guard was alerted.
— Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.