A Small Plane Crash in Colorado Has Killed All 5 Passengers, According To Reports

Since Sunday afternoon, authorities had been searching for a Cessna airplane that vanished along with its five passengers in Colorado's San Juan mountains. And on Monday, the tragic reality was laid bare: The small plane did indeed crash, reportedly leaving five people dead. Remnants of the plane were discovered by San Juan County authorities in the southeastern Colorado mountains. According to the Associated Press, the elevation of the crash site was about 11,700 feet, near the town of Silverton.

The names of the victims have not yet been released. It's a harrowing story, and it serves as a reminder that, despite some of the high-profile commercial plane crashes we've seen in the past couple of years, a lot of aerial travel plays out away from the big airlines, with privately-owned, low-occupancy aircraft. The plane was a Cessna 310, and according to Colorado NBC affiliate KUSA-TV, there was a craft of that model reported overdue en route from California to Texas on Sunday. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson couldn't confirm whether it was the same plane.

The wreck site was discovered on Sunday night, hours after it reportedly went down. The AP quoted National Transportation Security Board spokesperson Peter Knudson as saying nobody had survived.

It's unclear when the identities of the victims will be released, and no information has been released about why the plane might have gone down. And determining this isn't always as simple as it is with large, commercial aircraft — they're not always equipped with black box voice recorders or the like.

Some small planes are indeed outfitted with them for safety's sake, and/or to leave a record if something goes wrong, but these kinds of planes operate under significant weight issues. The heavier a plane is, the worse its fuel efficiency gets. In short, such diagnostic devices are not a minimum requirement for small planes the way they are for commercial jets, and many small plane owners eschew them.

Luckily, it sounds as though the crash will be the subject of an investigation by bigger authorities than just those of San Juan County, which could help undercover some information about what happened. According to KUSA, investigators from the NTSB and FAA will be visiting the crash site in the coming days. The plane reportedly lost radio contact just south of the city of Telluride, and was never heard from again.