Wreckage of missing plane that took off from SLO found in Kern County mountains

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office on Friday morning located the wreckage of a private plane that took off from San Luis Obispo and crashed into the Tehachapi Mountains.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified about 10:30 p.m. Thursday of a missing aircraft — described as a twin-engine Beechcraft plane with three occupants — that had been en route to Los Angeles, according to a news release.

Patrol units began searching the area of Interstate 5 and Highway 166 and continued on to the mountain area, which is covered with 2 to 3 feet of snow. Efforts to find the plane continued until 3:30 a.m.

Crews later resumed their search and spotted the plane from a helicopter about 10:30 a.m, Sgt. Steve Williams said during a Friday afternoon press conference.

Remains of one occupant were located near the crash site, he said.

Locating the plane’s other passengers will prove challenging due to deep mountain snow that has made reaching and excavating the site difficult, Williams said.

Searching for the missing plane

The plane flew into the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport about 11 or 11:30 a.m on Thursday and departed about 4 p.m., said Craig Piper, deputy airport director.

It’s unknown where the plane came from, but the aircraft is registered out of Glendale, Piper said.

When the plane didn’t reach its destination, the pilot’s son contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reported the plane overdue, Williams said.

Radar and cell phone data directed investigators to Kern County and the Tehachapi Mountains, he said.

It’s unclear what caused the crash, which will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Williams said. The area where the crash occurred is remote, and there were likely no witnesses to the incident, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office will spend the next few days accessing the site with the county coroner and investigators from the FAA and NTSB, Williams said.

The names of plane’s occupants have not yet been released, pending identification and notification of next of kin.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.