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2 confirmed dead in Santa Clara plane crash

SANTA CLARA, Washington County — Two people were confirmed dead Wednesday after a plane crashed in an area southwest of Santa Clara.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office received information of the crash about 11 a.m. from witnesses who saw the aircraft go down near the Cove Wash trailhead. Steep terrain made approaching the scene difficult for deputies, and a Life Flight helicopter was requested to fly over the area and confirm the crash, according to Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. David Crouse.

Two men were found dead on the side of a steep mountain where the fixed-wing aircraft went down, Crouse said. A Utah Highway Patrol helicopter assisted in recovering the bodies Wednesday afternoon. The victims were not identified on the day of the crash pending the notification of family.

Jonathan Hawkins said he was biking in the area with his brother when they saw the plane go down.

"I heard a sputter, and it was going down and losing control," Hawkins said. "That was the last we heard — the sputter, and then it just died."

Police were working with the Bureau of Land Management and Washington County Search and Rescue in dealing with the rugged terrain and transporting a high-angle rescue team to the scene, Crouse said.

The single-engine plane was registered to a flight school in the St. George area, according to police. Investigators were unaware of any radio traffic or emergency beacons that would indicate the aircraft was in distress prior to the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified and will be assisting in the investigation, Crouse said.