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Missing Alberta plane found near Colorado-Utah state line, family confirms no survivors
Published Friday, February 23, 2018 9:48AM MST
Last Updated Friday, February 23, 2018 7:03PM MST
An aircraft that went missing after departing from an airport in Grand Junction, Colorado has been located and family members of the four passengers confirm there were no survivors.
"With a heavy heart I must announce that the plane has been located with no survivors. In the future I will talk about how great the four people that we lost were to everyone that knew them, but for now we are going to grieve," said the Kaupp family in a Twitter message. "Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart to every first responder, person who shared info on social media, and anyone who helped give us hope today. There’s still good in the world."
On Friday afternoon, search and rescue officials detected a signal from an emergency transmitter in an area near the Colorado-Utah state line.
Officials with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office confirm the wreckage of a small airplane was found in eastern San Juan County, Utah at aprroximately 5:00 p.m.
Jon Kaupp says his father, Bill, 64, brother, Clint, 28, and two family friends left Cut Bank Airport in Montana on Wednesday in a Piper Lance and were headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Village of Warner says the two family friends have been identified as Tim Mueller and Ron McKenzie.
The foursome stayed the night in Grand Junction after they were grounded because of bad weather.
Jon says his brother texted him at about 10:00 a.m. Thursday saying they were leaving the regional airport in Colorado and says that’s the last time he heard from the group.
"He texted me, because somebody was trying to get a hold of one of our employees and he said he was just taking off from Grand Junction. And that was the last I heard from him. About 4:00 I phoned him to see how they were doing, if they landed. His phone rang but it went to voice mail, so I left a voice mail and then sent him some texts," said Kaupp in a phone interview with CTV News.
The family became worried when calls and texts went unanswered and they contacted authorities.
"The texts weren’t delivering properly so then I started getting a little more worried. Then when the sun started getting down I got really worried, because my dad can’t, he doesn’t have a night rating so he doesn’t fly at night,” said Kaupp. “They say they’ve got a bunch of air force out looking. I guess because it was so late, a lot of the small airports didn’t have any employees working at them last night so this morning, they’re hoping to get a hold of everybody but we haven’t heard much new this morning. We’ve talked to them a few times and they've got planes out.”
The Piper was built in 1976 and Kaupp says the four were travelling to New Mexico so Bill could look at a new plane.
An official with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office told CTV News on Friday that the terrain around Grand Junction is high desert and mountainous.