published Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Official: No survivors found in Ga. plane wreckage

ATLANTA (AP) — Search crews found no survivors in the wreckage of a plane carrying four people that crashed atop a north Georgia mountain this week, a Civil Air Patrol official said late Wednesday.

Maj. Paige Joyner of the Georgia Wing of the Civil Air Patrol said crews made the discovery after lowering a searcher by rope from a helicopter to reach the remote crash site.

Recovery efforts would begin Thursday morning, Joyner said.

The names of the victims were not immediately available.

Joyner said the site is on Rich Mountain, in an extremely rugged and remote part of Gilmer County.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, was reported missing Monday. Three occupants are from north Georgia and the pilot is from Ohio.

The group was on a sightseeing flight after someone won the trip as a door prize at Gilmer High School’s 50th class reunion held recently.

Several tips from local residents, some of whom reported seeing or hearing what sounded like a plane, were pieced together by searchers who zeroed in on the mountain. The crash site was then spotted by a Georgia State Patrol helicopter Wednesday afternoon, Joyner said.

There are no roads to reach the area, Joyner said, so the searchers rappeled a rescuer from a helicopter hovering overhead.

About 200 people have participated in the search, authorities said.

“There was a tremendous outpouring of support from the local folks,” Joyner said.

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