Alaska State Troopers on Sunday positively identified the three people who died in a plane crash Friday morning near Cantwell.
In a news release, Troopers say the bodies of pilot Dale Hemman, 61, of Steilacoom, Washington, and passengers John Ellenberg, 74, of Greenville, South Carolina, and Laurie Buckner, 52,
of Simpsonville, South Carolina, were recovered from the crash.
Next of kin have been notified.
Troopers say Hemman was flying a "lead" plane in a large airplane tour group that took off from Fairbanks and was headed to Homer.
They say Hemman's plane, a twin-engine B-55 Beech Baron, was several minutes ahead of the rest of the group.
The state Division of Forestry reported the crash near Mile 195 of the Parks Highway around 11:55 a.m..
NTSB officials say its unclear what caused the plane to crash; however, they speculate smoke from the Skinnys Road wildfire, still burning between Fairbanks and Nenana, combined with rain
in the area, may have been a factor in the crash.
An investigation into the crash continues.
Troopers are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact them at 451-5100, or the National Transportation Safety Board Anchorage office at (907) 271-5001.