3 killed when plane crashes at Mount Si

3 killed when plane crashes at Mount Si »Play Video
A view from AIR 4 shows the crash scene at Mount Si.
NORTH BEND, Wash. -- Three people were killed when the small plane they were in crashed early Wednesday near North Bend.

Sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said the single-engine Cessna 172 crashed at Mount Si just after 2 a.m., killing the woman and two men who were on board.

Officials said several people in the area called 911 after hearing a sputtering engine from a low flying plane. The callers told dispatchers the plane's engine cut out before the crash.

Searchers using night vision goggles spotted the wreckage amid broken trees with aircraft debris hanging in the branches, Deputy Ken O'Neal said.

An emergency transmitter in the plane was either activated on impact or by someone on the plane, said Tom Peterson, aviation emergency services coordinator for the Washington Transportation Department.

Search and rescue crews on the ground made it to the crash scene about 7:30 a.m. and found the bodies.

It was not known where the plane was headed, and the names of the people who were killed have not been released.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus said preliminary information indicates the plane was not in contact with air traffic control.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating how the plane hit the 4,200-foot peak, which is visible from Interstate 90. Visibility was good during the air search, O'Neal said.

Nighttime flying under visual rules without contacting air traffic control is permitted and not unusual, said NTSB investigator Wayne Pollack in Los Angeles before he flew to Washington.

He planned to examine the wreckage Thursday, looking into the weather at the time, the pilot's background and the airplane's maintenance.

He'll decide whether the wreckage has to be reconstructed at another location for a closer inspection.