Search crews found no survivors in the wreckage of a plane carrying four people that crashed atop a north Georgia mountain. Recovery efforts are underway at the crash site.
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.
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 pilot, Phil Key of Ohio, was flying the three passengers, all of whom were high school classmates of his. They had attended their 50th high school reunion, where an aerial tour in Key’s plane was one of the door prizes. Those passengers were identified by friends as Patricia Smith, Mattie Pierce and her husband, Woody Pierce.
Those who know Key say he had done a similar tour on Sunday.
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 about 15 miles northeast of the airport, 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 participated in the search, authorities said. "There was a tremendous outpouring of support from the local folks," Joyner said.