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Three Die In Crash Of Spokane-Bound Plane

The bodies of three people were found Tuesday amid the wreckage of a small airplane that crashed near Canyon Ferry Lake the night before.

Debbie Alke of the Aeronautics Division of the Montana Department of Transportation said the plane disappeared from radar at 8:25 p.m. Monday about 20 miles southeast of Helena.

The single-engine Piper Comanche was traveling from Billings to Spokane when it vanished, Alke said.

Those aboard were identified as Chris Hard, a Gillette, Wyo.-based architect, and Tom Nixon and Rich Davis, architects from Boulder, Colo.

According to Hard’s administrative assistant, Deb McClintock, the three men were heading to a meeting at Hard’s Spokane office. McClintock said the Boulder men stopped in Gillette to pick up Hard Monday evening before flying on to Billings.

“That’s the last we heard from Chris,” McClintock told the Gillette News-Record. “He called from Billings (at about 5:30 p.m. Monday) and said they were running late.”

An airborne search crew spotted the aircraft Tuesday afternoon just east of the Spokane Hills near the White Earth campground, roughly 18 miles southeast of Helena, and a ground crew reached the scene about 3:15 p.m.