SALINA — A California couple killed in a plane crash near Salina earlier this month may have had obstructed vision before slamming into the mountainside.

Peter and Ramona Branagh, of Lafayette, Calif., died when the single-engine Cirrus SR22 crashed July 14 in Saleratus Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Salina. The couple was traveling from Concord, Calif., to Aspen, Colo. The couple did not file a flight plan, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane was flying at an altitude of 13,700 feet, but climbed to 14,200 feet during the last two minutes before crashing, the NTSB report stated.

"The preliminary review of weather in the area of the accident indicated that the cloud base was at 9,000 feet msl (mean sea level), and the cloud top was at 27,000 feet msl with light rain," according to the report.

The crash was discovered the next day "on the northern slope of a ridgeline in the Fish Lake National Forest," according to the NTSB. The debris field was about 100 feet wide and 425 feet long. The crash ended in a crater, 2 to 3 feet deep, with the plane's engine and part of the center console buried.

"The first point of impact was a pine tree, the trunk was broken approximately 17 feet from the base of the tree," the report states.

Peter Branagh was a real estate developer and director of the California Bank of Commerce. Ramona Branagh owned an interior design business in Danville, Pacific Bay Interiors.

Pat Reavy

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