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Three killed in plane crash near Telluride identified

(Photo: San Miguel County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: San Miguel County Sheriff's Office)

(Credit: San Miguel County Sheriff's Office)

(Credit: San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office)

(Photo: San Miguel County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office)

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Three pilots from Arizona died Sunday when the small plane in which they were flying slammed into a cliff band, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The Beechcraft Bonanza took off from Telluride Regional Airport at 11:20 a.m. en route to Cortez, in light snow with one mile visibility and calm winds, officials said.

Air traffic controllers became concerned after the aircraft was not heard from for an extended period. About 12:40 p.m., a search was launched.

Deputies searching in a contracted helicopter located the wrecked aircraft at 5:17 p.m., about a mile from the runway. All three people aboard were dead, SMCSO reported.

The victims were identified Monday as Sherry and Sherman Anderson of Phoenix and Eric Durban of Mesa, Ariz.

The Andersons, 57 and 64 years old respectively, were both commercial airline pilots, SMCSO said. Durban, 48, was reportedly a former military pilot.

“This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said. “It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”