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The Diamond DA-40 aircraft was found just before 7 p.m. Saturday in a rural area about five miles east of Cedar City when deputies responded to a report of a fire, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office said.
Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Eatchel, who was piloting the aircraft, his wife Lindsay Eatchel, Thomas Eatchel, and Danielle Deagostini were all pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
Steven Eatchel and Thomas Eatchel were brothers, family told FOX13 Salt Lake City, and Danielle Deagostini was Thomas Eatchel’s girlfriend.
Steven Eatchel had been working as a deputy in the Utah County jail, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Steven Eatchel and Lindsay Eatchel are survived by their four children.
“The Utah County Sheriff’s Office expresses its sincerest condolences to the Eatchel family,” the sheriff’s office said. “His kind manner and ever-present smile will be missed.”
The small plane took off from the Cedar Regional Airport for a sightseeing tour of Zion National Park and appeared to be heading east toward some mountains, according to the sheriff’s office. But radar communication with the aircraft was lost about four minutes after takeoff.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash. No cause was immediately identified.
Cedar City is located about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City and roughly 50 miles from the borders of Arizona and Nevada.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.