WOODY — Kern County Sheriff’s personnel said two people were killed in a plane crash whose wreckage was found near this community Monday morning.
The plane was en route from the San Diego area to Fresno, according to an email from Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
The coroner’s office identified the two men on board as James Johnston, of Sanger, and Jacob Curiel, of Imperial.
Ages of the men were not released, and autopsies are pending.
At about 4 p.m. Sunday, air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza about 9 miles southeast of Porterville, Gregor wrote.
The sheriff’s department received a call of a missing plane at about 7 p.m. Sunday in the vicinity of Woody, a mountainous area about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield off Highway 155.
Search and rescue teams looked Sunday night but the sheriff’s department could not conduct an aerial search because of the weather, Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said. Some search and rescue team members stayed the night and set up a command post.
One of the sheriff department’s helicopters was able to search the area Monday morning and found the crash site.
“Our air unit was able to touch down in the area, that was about an hour ago," Pruitt said just before 10 a.m.
A command post was established on Highway 155 about 8 miles east of Highway 65, and Pruitt said sheriff’s personnel would probably work the site for at least the next couple of days. A sheriff’s helicopter was continuously ferrying people back and forth from the crash site Monday afternoon.
Pruitt said he’d been told the crash site is a relatively large area, even though the plane itself was fairly intact. The area where it crashed is hilly and muddy and only reachable by helicopter or ATV.
“It’s going to be challenging because it’s in such a remote location,” he said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, according to Gregor.