Plane crashes in Superstition Mountains - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Plane crashes in Superstition Mountains

Posted:
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -

A small plane crashed in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix on the eve of Thanksgiving, and six people aboard are feared dead.

As of 10 p.m., a child between the ages of 5 and 9 has been found deceased.

Multiple witnesses reported a plane crashed into the top of a mountain in the Flat Iron area and burst into flames just after 6:30 p.m. They described the plane flying level and then trying and failing to pull up at the last second. A 9-year-old boy described the sound like "fireworks."

The plane apparently split into two at impact, indicated by two debris piles.

Deputies and rescuers are combing the scene. It's in an area of rough and jagged terrain, and they will be searching the wreckage through the night.

A DPS helicopter deposited a Ranger on the mountain to survey the crash scene. He found a wheel that is consistent with a plane of the reported size. In the meantime, rescue helicopters were over the scene, using infrared lights to search for survivors. So far, there is nothing to indicate anyone survived.

Allen Kenitzer with the FAA says the plane was a Rockwell AC69 twin engine airplane, which departed Falcon Field in east Mesa. The plane is registered to Ponderosa Aviation Inc. out of Safford, Ariz. They had no comment.

Sheriff Paul Babeu says there are unconfirmed reports a plane left Safford and landed in Falcon Field to refuel about 4:30. There were three adults and three children on board.

"From what we heard, this plane left from Safford to Falcon Field in Mesa to pick up children for Thanksgiving to go back to Safford. So it's heartbreaking if that's the case," said Babeu.

At its highest level, the Superstition Mountains has a 5,000 feet elevation. The plane reportedly hit about 4,500 and may have been going upwards of 200 miles per hour.

A large fire was burning in the area, but it is mostly contained. Authorities are focusing their energies on finding the crash scene.

A law enforcement staging area has been set up at the Lost Dutchman State Park.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating this accident. NTSB is the lead investigative agency and will arrive Thursday at noon.

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