Two bodies, believed to be those of a missing Simi Valley couple, were pulled from the wreckage of a plane clinging to a slope in the Providence Mountains on Wednesday, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said.
Thirteen members of the sheriff's Vertical Rock and Alpine Team climbed 250 feet down the steep granite slope to the wreckage of the single-engine Piper Cherokee 140, authorities said.
Inside, team members found the bodies of a man and a woman, said department spokesman Jim Bryant. Late Wednesday, the San Bernardino County coroner's office had not determined their identities, but Bryant said they are believed to be Annie Cadoret, 48, and her husband, Dollard (Dell) Cadoret, 54, missing since April 17.
The registration number, usually painted near the tail of a plane, was "not distinguishable," Bryant said, making it impossible for investigators to determine immediately if the plane was the one flown by the Cadorets.
"The plane was crumpled, and there was some fire that burned the number out," Bryant said. In addition, the recovery team could not find the plane's vehicle plate, usually located inside, which would have enabled them to confirm its ownership.
The bodies were lowered about 500 feet to a helicopter, flown off the mountain and driven to San Bernardino, authorities said.
Searchers covered 8,000 square miles during an eight-day hunt for the couple's plane before the wreckage was sighted by the Civil Air Patrol on Monday, authorities said. Inclement weather Tuesday prevented a helicopter from reaching the site, about 5,000 feet up a 5,996-foot peak about 60 miles east of Barstow.
The search covered the area over which the Cadorets, both pilots, would have flown after they took off from Bullhead City, Ariz., the morning of April 17 en route to Whiteman Airport in Pacoima.
Rescuers found no sign of the poodle the couple was said to have had aboard the plane.