SANTA CLARA, Washington County — Two men who were killed in a plane crash southwest of Santa Clara Wednesday were identified Thursday.
Pilot Gary Hawes, 75, of St. George, and student co-pilot Brad Brian, 38, of Washington, Washington County, died in the crash.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office was first notified of the crash about 11 a.m. Wednesday after witnesses saw the fixed-wing airplane go down near the Cove Wash trailhead. A Life Flight helicopter was used to confirm the crash before a high-angle rescue team was transported to the scene, which was in steep terrain.
A Utah Highway Patrol helicopter was used to help recover the bodies Wednesday afternoon.
The single-engine plane was registered to a flight school in the St. George area, according to police. Investigators were unaware of any radio traffic or emergency beacons indicating the aircraft was in distress prior to the crash.
Washington County sheriff's detectives met Thursday with representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Cessna Aircraft Company to investigate details of the crash.
Officials were examining the condition of the plane's frame and engine, as well as the pilot's licensing and weather conditions at the time of the crash, according to Thomas Little of the National Transportation Safety Board.
"Nothing stands out at this time," Little said. "An official determination is still months away."
"We are shocked and heartbroken at Brad's sudden passing," Brian's family wrote in a statement. "Brad had dreamed of becoming a pilot his entire life and was finally making that dream become reality. Brad leaves behind his wife and four beautiful children, who adore him and will miss him tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hawes family during this tragedy."
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