Victims of Washington plane crash identified as Minnesota couple


A husband and wife from northern Minnesota have been identified as the pair killed when their single-engine plane crashed into mountains in Washington state.

The plane carrying Robert and Gail Nevalainen, of Kabeotogama Township, crashed en route to Orcas Island for vacation on Saturday after taking off from International Falls, KOMO News reports.

The pair weren't reported missing by their family until Tuesday, and the wreckage of the plane was found by search teams on Wednesday. The news website notes it is believed to have flown into the side of the mountain in the state's North Cascades.

According to the Star Tribune, the couple were prominent members of the local community, with Bob Nevalainen, 62, a retired firefighter who served as the chairman of the township board and as a fishing guide in Voyageurs National Park.

His wife Gail, 58, was the township treasurer and a member of the fire department. The newspaper notes that a vigil for the couple was held at the town hall on Wednesday afternoon.

My NorthWest reports that the pair were flying a Piper Pacer airplane that crashed at about 6,300 feet in an area known as the Twin Sisters, south of Mount Baker – the tallest peak in the North Cascades.

The wreckage was found just 20 miles from the site of another plane that also crashed on Saturday, which killed a married couple in their 70s from Montana, but which their 16-year-old step-granddaughter miraculously survived.

KOMO News said officials believe the Nevalainen's plane crashed before the one from Montana, but was found later because their disappearance wasn't reported until Tuesday.

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