By Joseph Kolb
ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - A New Mexico couple who took off from a small air strip west of Albuquerque last week before going missing were found dead on Wednesday, officials said.
Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez said the bodies of 55-year-old Howard Guthrie and 42-year-old Melissa Vatson were found dead in the crashed plane at 12:37 p.m. local time by a local search team.
"It was real mountainous terrain with heavy tree cover," Valdez said. "Basically all we were doing was a recovery."
Guthrie, a Navy veteran, was flying his four-passenger Mooney airplane with his girlfriend Vatson, a second grade teacher, to Pagosa Springs, Colorado when it was last heard from on Friday.
The couple had flown the four passenger single engine plane out of a small air strip in Moriarty, New Mexico, 37 miles (60 km) west of Albuquerque.
Police said the plane could not land in Colorado because of inclement weather and they were told to turn back.
Valdez said the cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Michael Perry)