Body of pilot found near Yuma sent to Tucson for ID
The body of the pilot found in the wreckage of a small plane Wednesday morning on the Barry M. Goldwater Range is in the process of being identified.
Capt. Eben Bratcher, spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, said the body was removed from the wreckage later that same afternoon and sent to Tucson for an autopsy and DNA testing.
"It could be about a week before we have a positive identification," Bratcher said. "But we believe it is the owner of the plane."
Although the remains have been described as "unrecognizable," Bratcher said the pilot is believed to be a woman reported missing a few days ago by her husband after she took off in a Piper Cherokee from a Tucson-area airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been at the site investigating the cause of the crash, but Bratcher said it appears that the plane, a single-engine passenger plane, was not involved in any type of illegal smuggling activity.
The wreckage of the single-engine plane was found at 8:42 a.m. Wednesday by a Yuma Sector Border Patrol agent just west of the Mohawk Mountains, on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, about 10 to 15 miles south of Interstate 8.
The U.S. Border Patrol then notified YCSO. Bratcher said he did not know when the plane had crashed.
According to Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the plane was found on the southeastern section of the range, about 50 miles southeast of Yuma.
She added that because the area is a protected refuge, it is restricted airspace and the air station does not conduct any training exercises in the area.