MOAB, Utah - It had already been a long day when Dr. Lansing Ellsworth and his team of dermatology specialists climbed aboard a twin-engine plane in southeastern Utah, ready to return home to their families 200 miles away.
But shortly after takeoff Friday evening, their Beech King Air A-100 crashed in the nearby hills and exploded. All 10 people on board were killed.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Tealeye Cornejo said the investigation will be difficult because much of the plane burned.
"The fire was so intense, there's not a lot of it left," she said.
On board were employees of Southwest Skin and Cancer/Red Canyon Aesthetics & Medical Spa, a dermatology company based in Cedar City. Moab was one of nine regular stops the team made traveling in Utah, northern Arizona and Nevada, providing skin treatment that might not otherwise be available in small, remote communities.
They had gotten an early start Friday, flying east to Moab so they could spend the day at a clinic there dedicated to the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.
"They felt it was a need they could service," said Dane Leavitt, a friend of many on the trip and CEO of the company that owned the plane. "Our hearts are broken."
Grand County Sheriff James Nyland identified the dead as pilot David White; the company's director, Lansing Ellsworth, 50, and his son Dallin, 23; David Goddard, 60, and his daughter Cecilee, 31; Mandy Johnson; Marcie Tillery, 29; Valerie Imlay, 52; Keith Shumway, 29; and Camie Vigil, 25.
"It is with disbelief that we struggle to comprehend the events of yesterday," the Ellsworth family said in a statement Saturday. Those on the trip with Southwest Skin and Cancer "provided much needed dermatology care to patients who might otherwise go without."
Linda Snow, the company's office manager in Cedar City, said, "We are just deeply saddened. These are individuals that were highly skilled and very professional in what they do, and they will be missed."
The airplane is owned by Leavitt Group Wings, part of the Cedar City-based Leavitt Group, an insurance brokerage. The dermatology group had a time-share agreement for use of the plane, said CEO Dane Leavitt.
Pilot David White was a Leavitt Group Wings employee, Leavitt said.
"He was very well qualified. He'd flown that plane for hundreds of hours. He'd flown this route many times," Leavitt said.
The airplane was built in 1975 and was well-maintained, Leavitt said. His company has owned it for six years.
The plane went down near Canyonlands Field airport, about 18 miles northwest of Moab.
The wreckage was little more than a pile of twisted, blackened shards of metal. Most of the debris on the otherwise-barren stretch of land was closely clustered and marked by yellow tape. One propeller was thrown about 20 feet from its engine.
"It's just weird. I mean, something happened to make this guy veer left off the runway," Nyland said.
Representatives of the NTSB and the FAA arrived Saturday. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency's preliminary report will take five to 10 days to complete.
Moab is about 245 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.