The Yavapai County Medical Examiner has confirmed the identities of four people who died after a single-engine plane crashed in rough terrain northwest of Sedona on Sunday, sparking a brush fire in Fay Canyon, Coconino National Forest officials said.
The victims were the pilot, Jonathan McGeary, 22, of Flagstaff; Levi Wallace, 23, of Prescott; Johanna Naber, 18, of Shellbrook, Saskatchewan Canada; and Sabrina Giebelen, 19, of Krefeld, Germany.
A family friend of McGreary's said the 22-year-old man loved to fly. He also said that McGeary and Wallace had known each other for years. Wallace grew up in Prescott where he played high school football.
The McGeary family friend said all four young adults were great friends and had known each other through church camps. He added that all four came from very strong Christian families.
McGreary attended church at Flagstaff Mission Tabernacle. Attempts to reach the pastor of the church were unsuccessful.
The young adults had attended a church service in Flagstaff and were flying to Sedona when the plane went down.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said hikers reported a small plane had crashed into the side of Mogollon Rim about 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said with the rough terrain, they were working with a DPS ranger to airlift the victims out of the area late Monday morning. The victims were then taken to the Medical Examiner's Office.
It's not known yet what caused the plane to crash. The FAA has identified the aircraft as a Cessna 182. The FAA and NTSB are investigating the incident.
Coconino National Forest spokesman Brady Smith estimated the Fay Fire had blackened between 25 to 30 acres.
Smith said about 30 personnel battled the brush fire, which burned four miles northwest of Sedona in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness area of Fay Canyon with no containment.
One Hot Shot crew, one helicopter, an air attack unit and Sedona fire units fought the fire.
"I was just driving by the canyon area and saw a plume of smoke," said Mitch Heider, who was passing by. He talked to the hikers, who told him a plane had crashed.
No structures were threatened and no evacuations were reported.
"All you could see was a quick plume of smoke went up, and from there, it got larger," Heider said.
Fay Canyon Trailhead and Bear Mountain Trailhead are both closed at this time.
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