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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A small plane missing for three days was found Wednesday near the state's tallest mountain in west-central Wyoming. All three passengers were dead, authorities said.

Ground crews discovered debris at 10:30 a.m. and found the plane's wreckage shortly thereafter in a rocky area about a mile east of the 13,780-foot Gannett Peak, Fremont County sheriff's Capt. David Good said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were en route, he said. Bad weather was expected to delay body recovery until early next week.

The Mooney M20K was carrying Rod and Char Lashley, and Leslie Hofmeister, all of Scottsbluff, Neb. They were the parents and girlfriend of University of Arizona golfer Nate Lashley, who was not on the plane.

Aerial and ground crews had been hampered by heavy snow and high wind Wednesday as they combed a rocky area in the Wind River Range dotted with glaciers.

"The weather is making it very difficult today with the wind and snow," sheriff's Sgt. Jerry Evagelatos said. "It's snowing real hard and the wind is blowing in excess of 50 mph."

The plane disappeared from radar south of Dubois on Sunday. Rod Lashley was apparently trying to reach Riverton, about 68 miles to the south, to sit out a spell of bad weather, Good said.

A search by the Civil Air Patrol and deputies from Fremont and Sublette counties began Monday. Aerial crews suspended search efforts after dark on Tuesday, but six mountaineers spent the night in the area and resumed their search early Wednesday.

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Rod Lashley, a used car dealer and pilot for several years, had been returning to Scottsbluff, Neb., from Sun River, Ore., where his son had been in a regional golf tournament.

Several relatives of the passengers were in Lander, Evagelatos said.

The incident was the third involving a missing or crashed plane in Wyoming in as many days. Three people were killed in two separate plane crashes Sunday and Tuesday in a southwestern county.

AP-WS-05-26-04 1830EDT

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