Sunday, March 18, 2012

Plane wreckage, victim found in Diablo Mountains

Submitted by the sheriff's office
Plane wreckage found

This is the area of the crash.

Authorities have located the airplane that crashed in the Diablo Mountains and the deceased victim of the accident.

The sheriff's office and other agencies had been searching for a plane they believe crashed this week somewhere near New Idria.

On Saturday, the sheriff's office confirmed the crashed plane wreckage was located in the Diablo Mountains between Panoche Road and New Idra Road.

Investigators found serial numbers from the wreckage and confirmed it was the missing plane.

"The pilot has not yet been identified due to being burnt beyond recognition. The San Benito County Sheriff's Office Coroner Division will be trying to positively identify the pilot through DNA," according to a statement from the office.

At about 11:40 a.m. Thursday, the sheriff’s office received a call of an “overdue plane from the U.K.” flown by a single occupant, Ron Ratliff, who had been delivering the twin engine Beechcraft Bonanza to the San Jose airport. The Federal Aviation Administration reported that it went missing about 8 p.m. Thursday over the Diablo Mountains near New Idria and Clear Creek.

The county’s search and rescue unit was joined by deputies and two fixed-wing airplanes, from the California Highway Patrol and the Civil Air Patrol.

The sheriff’s office had reported that based on the last known location, speed and altitude, the crash site was likely within a 10-mile radius between New Idria and Highway 25 in the Diablo Mountains in a sparsely populated area of southern San Benito County.

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