LAKESIDE, MONT., JULY 5 -- A twin-engine plane crashed and burned near a popular resort at Flathead Lake in western Montana, killing all 10 people on board including the members of a bluegrass band, authorities said today.
All six members of The Montana Band died when the Beechcraft plane went down Saturday night. Also killed were the group's road manager, the pilot, a female friend of his and the 12-year-old son of a band member, said the Flathead County sheriff's office.
The band, based in Reno, Nev., had become popular among country music fans since winning the 1986 Willie Nelson Music Invitational.
A spokeswoman said the band had played a private engagement at Lakeside and taken off from the Kalispell City Airport en route to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to play Saturday night in nearby Post Falls.
The plane went down 12 to 15 miles south of the airport just after 8 p.m., said Corky Derby, information officer for the sheriff's office.
It hit the top of pine trees 20 yards away from U.S. 93, tearing off a portion of the tail section, then cut a burning swath through trees before plowing into an apple orchard. Musical instruments were scattered around the wreckage.
"I could see the plane coming up over the house," said Dellivan Thornton, who saw the crash from about a half-mile away. "She was coming real low and made a curve and then she just went down and hit between two trees."
Gene Holliday, who lives nearby, said he saw the plane come in off Flathead Lake and go into a roll.
Derby said witnesses had varying accounts of what occurred moments before impact and the ensuing fire.
The musical group, formerly known as the Mission Mountain Wood Band, changed its name to The Montana Band about 18 months ago, Derby said.