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Missing plane, dead pilot found in Southern Utah

Published June 19, 2014 4:40 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Bayfield, Colo., pilot died after his plane crashed into the La Sal Mountain Range.

Miles Reece, 62, and another pilot — in separate planes — were flying from Durango, Colo., to go camping in the Idaho backcountry, with a planned fuel stop in Brigham City.

But about 9 a.m. Wednesday, radar in Grand Junction, Colo., had the two planes in view but lost visual on both as they entered the La Sal mountains. The radar picked up one plane again as it cleared the range, but Reece's plane never reappeared, according to a San Juan County Sheriff's news release.

Douglas Berry, Reece's friend in the other plane, turned around and flew back to where he had last talked to Reece over the radio. But he couldn't find him.

"He then turned back towards the north and continued on to Brigham City hoping that Mr. Reece was only having radio problems and would meet up with him at their planned rendezvous point," the release reads. "After several hours of waiting on Mr. Reece in Brigham City with no contact from Mr. Reece, Mr. Berry contacted authorities to report the missing plane."

By 1 p.m., search teams found the plane in a steep ravine south of the Lasal Mountain Pass road, directly between Medicine Lake and Beaver Lake. The plane had crashed into the mountainside, killing Reece on impact, according to the sheriff's office.

The pilot was alone, and only traveling with camping equipment. The plane was equipped with four different emergency locator devices, but none of them had been turned on, according to the sheriff's office.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted to investigation why the plane crashed.

Reece's body will be flown from the area and later taken to the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of the victim," the release concludes.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda