MONTICELLO — A Colorado man was killed Wednesday when his plane crashed in the La Sal Mountains in San Juan County.
Miles Reece, 62, of Bayfield, Colorado, was piloting the plane and was its only occupant. San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge said his office, with the help of the Department of Public Safety and Civil Air Patrol, located the plane about 1 p.m. Thursday.
The 1958 fixed-wing, single-engine 175 Cessna plane was found in a steep ravine directly between Medicine Lake and Beaver Lake and south of the La Sal Mountain Pass road. The plane crashed into the mountainside, killing Reece on impact, he said.
Federal authorities have been contacted to investigate the cause of the crash.
Eldredge said Reece left Wednesday from the Durango, Colorado, airport and was headed to Idaho to camp in the backcountry. He was flying with another plane and friend, Douglas Berry of New Mexico.
Berry was ahead of Reece and the two were in radio contact, but not visual contact. The two planned to meet in Brigham City to refuel.
"As they passed around the La Sal Mountain range, they went off radar," Eldredge said of the men being tracked by radar in Grand Junction, Colorado. "Because of the way the mountain is and things, they left radar visual. Only one of the planes appeared back on the radar once they crossed the Colorado River headed north."
Berry was unable to contact Reece by radio. Eldredge said Berry returned to where he last had radio contact with Reece and then headed north again hoping that Reece was having radio problems and would be waiting in Brigham City.
"(Berry) arrived in Brigham City, refueled and waited for several hours, but obviously Mr. Reece did not show up," he said.
Berry then contacted authorities.
Eldredge said Reece was traveling alone and only had camping gear with him. He had four locating devices on his plane but none of them were turned on. Eldredge said searchers were able to spot the plane visually.