Authorities have released the identities of two people whose bodies were pulled from wreckage of a plane crash in Julian Thursday afternoon.
Roberta Ann Rose, 52, and her boyfriend, Andrew William Thulin, 55, were killed Wednesday night when their small, private plane crashed into a steep hillside about a half-mile from the top of Volcan Mountain, according to the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office. The aircraft was registered to Thulin.
The pair went missing sometime on Wednesday evening after they boarded a single-engine Mooney M20E headed from Palm Springs to San Diego’s Gillespie Field, officials said.
At some point during their journey the plane went off the radar and fatally crashed.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials said the plane’s last known location from air traffic control put the aircraft near the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, approximately four miles northeast of Julian -- in extremely rugged, treacherous terrain.
After an overnight search led by many officials from multiple agencies, at around 1 a.m. Thursday crews discovered the plane wreckage.
The search and recovery process proved quite difficult.
With poor accessibility, even highly-trained search and recovery teams had a tough time getting to the site of the crash. The wreckage could only be reached by a 45-minute, uphill hike into challenging, uneven land filled with brush.
Jan Caldwell with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said the recovery mission was a very tough, precise operation.
Finally, just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, the bodies of the victims were recovered.
Residents in the Volcan Mountain area were saddened to hear about the fatal crash. One resident, Gita Hudson, said this isn’t the first time she’s seen an aircraft go down in the area.
“It happens quite often. As long as I’ve lived here, 32 years, I think this has happened four times,” said Hudson.
Prior to Wednesday’s crash, the ill-fated airplane was due to land in San Diego at 6:15 p.m. When the aircraft became overdue, officials from Gillespie Field contacted deputies, and the search for the plane began.
Ultimately, search crews used a signal from the pilot’s cell phone to get a ping and track the plane's location. There, they discovered the wreckage and victim's bodies.
An investigation into the crash was ongoing and will be handled by the The Federal Aviation Administration. However, due to the government shutdown, both the FAA and NTSB have yet to get not involved with the crasinvestigation, Caldwell said.