Wreckage from a plane carrying Autumn Veatch and her step-grandparents was found Tuesday night, July 14, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The wreckage was still smoldering and flaring up when Skagit County Sheriff’s deputies and rescue volunteers arrived Wednesday at the crash site, located about one mile north of Highway 20 in the Rainy Pass area, according to the sheriff’s office.
Two bodies were recovered from the wreckage. They are believed to be those of Leland and Sharon Bowman, of Marion, Mont., who were aboard the plane Saturday, July 11, when it crashed.
Autumn, 16, of Bellingham survived and hiked away from the crash site to find help. On Monday she emerged from the wilderness and found a driver who took her to Mazama Store, the first stop on the way down from Washington Pass. She told a 911 dispatcher that she was the only survivor.
After being treated for severe dehydration at Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, Autumn arrived at her home in Bellingham on Tuesday night. Family friend Chelsey Clark said Autumn wanted to rest at home and spend time with her friends Wednesday.
The Beech A35 plane, which was piloted by Leland Bowman, 62, left Kalispell, Mont., around 1 p.m. Saturday headed for the Lynden Airport. It crossed into Washington around 2:21 p.m. and dropped off radar near Omak at 3:21 p.m. The last signal from a cellphone on the plane was detected near Omak at 3:49 p.m., according to the WSDOT.
Autumn told family and law enforcement that the plane was flying through the clouds and then crashed into the side of a mountain. The plane caught fire, and Autumn told authorities that she couldn’t save Leland or Sharon Bowman.
Another plane crashed that same day while trying to cross the Cascades. Civil Air Patrol pilots found scattered plane debris on Twin Sisters mountains at 8 a.m. Wednesday while searching for a plane due in Orcas Island on Saturday night. A Minnesota couple was on board, and two bodies were recovered Wednesday afternoon, said the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
The plane from Minnesota left radar several hours before the Montana plane was last tracked on radar, the WSDOT said.
There were several thunderstorms in the Cascades west of Mazama that afternoon, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Tobin. He counted at least 50 lightning strikes from 1 to 7 p.m., accompanied by heavy rain and gusty winds. The conditions would have been rough for a small plane, though not unusual for the time of year, he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating both crashes to try to determine what caused them.
Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help the crash survivor
Family friends have set up a gofundme.com page for Autumn Veatch, who lost her clothes, cellphone, electronics, art supplies and other personal belongings in the plane crash.