(Lander, WY) – Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan said Wednesday that a recovery operation to remove the bodies of four plane crash victims from a crash site deep in the Wind River Mountains of northwest Wyoming went smoothly on Tuesday. He said the operation began at 7:00 a.m. with crew assembly at the Lander Airport, and that the operation had concluded there by 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.
McAuslan indicated that the operation went smoothly, “thanks to the assistance of the Riverton Volunteer Fire Department, which provided the extrication equipment, plus four of their trained firefighters.” He added that “two of the firefighters are also sheriff's deputies and three are deputy coroners.”
The bodies were brought out of the mountains on a helicopter and were transferred to the Fremont County Morgue in Lander. The body of the pilot, Luke Bucklin of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was transferred to Loveland, CO for autopsy early Wednesday morning; McAuslan said preliminary autopsy results may be available Wednesday evening.
McAuslan said that it is standard procedure for a pilot's body to be autopsied when death is as a result of a plane crash. The complete autopsy report will most likely not be available for several weeks, as officials await results of toxicology and other tests.
The coroner said he would release the victims' bodies to Hudson’s Funeral Home in Lander on Thursday. The Bucklin family will then be able to make funeral arrangements.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune says that Luke Bucklin was president and co-founder of Sierra Bravo, a web development company based in the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington.
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials will now take over the investigation into what caused the crash.