MOUNT BALDY, Calif. — A coroner's official, an aviation investigator and search and rescue volunteers scaled a cold, rainy and fog-shrouded Mt. Baldy on Tuesday to retrieve the bodies of three people killed when their plane crashed into the mountainside.
At least two members of the all-volunteer West Valley Search and Rescue Team spent the night at the 8,900-foot level of the mountain next to the wreckage of a single-engine Piper missing since Sunday, San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Bryant said.
Although names of the dead were not officially released pending positive identification, officials said pilot Mony Ly, 24, Long Beach, and passengers Mondara Kong, 22, and Paula Leang, 17, also of Long Beach, had been identified by witnesses as having boarded the plane in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The plane was on the way to Long Beach and was missing until a sheriff's helicopter spotted the wreckage about 1,200 feet from the summit Monday morning.
"It's an eerie crash," Bryant said. "The wings are sheared off, but the plane, from the cockpit back, is virtually undamaged. Not even any broken windows."
Search and rescue team members, a National Transportation Safety Board official and a coroner's investigator left the Mt. Baldy ski lift parking lot Tuesday morning for the two-hour hike to the crash site, he said.
The team retrieved the bodies and descended the mountain Tuesday afternoon.