SALT LAKE CITY — The bodies of two men, reported missing Dec. 29 when the small plane they were flying failed to return to Ogden-Hinckley Airport, were recovered Saturday from the plane’s wreckage in the Great Salt Lake.
The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office reported divers began a recovery operation about 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning in about 20 feet of water near Promontory Point. They were able to recover the bodies of Denny Mansell, 71, the pilot of the plane, and passenger Peter Ellis, 74, at about 11:30 a.m.
According to reports, the men had intended to fly over a re-enactment event at the Golden Spike National Historic Site near Promontory Summit on Dec. 29. They were reported missing after failing to return on time that afternoon. Air and ground searches following the report failed to locate the plane, but teams using sonar discovered the Cessna 172 in the water on the north end of the Great Salt Lake last Saturday. Fog and other poor conditions on the lake had delayed recovery efforts until this weekend.
The Box Elder Sheriff’s Office said conditions for divers were good on Saturday, but the operation was “extremely technical” and hampered by the position of the plane, which was on its top on the lake floor. Following the recovery of the victims, further investigation of the crash, and bringing the wreckage up, will fall to the National Transportation Safety Board and the plane’s insurance carrier, according to the sheriff’s office. They also reported the victims were transported to the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office were autopsies will be performed to determine the men’s exact cause of death.
Multiple agencies were involved in the effort including Box Elder Search and Rescue, Utah Department of Public Safety, Civil Air Patrol, Box Elder Communications Center, Utah Division of Natural Resources and Weber County Scuba/Search and Rescue.
This story will be updated.
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News