Hill was a pilot and a private flight instructor, according to his sister, Becca Goode of Federal Way.
The identity of the third crash victim, Liz Redling, 29, of Federal Way, was confirmed by a woman who answered the phone at her house, but she declined to speak further.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office had not officially released the names of the crash victims as of Thursday afternoon. A candlelight vigil for the victims will be held at Decatur High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The probe into the cause of Wednesday’s crash will focus on the weather, the pilot’s background, and the aircraft’s maintenance, investigators said.
According to Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, preliminary information indicates the crash occurred between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.
Cindi West, spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said two deputies on patrol heard an explosion and began searching for the wreckage. Neighbors also reported hearing a “sputter, pop and an explosion,” she said.
“I heard it crash into a sheer cliff, and indeed that’s what’s up there,” North Bend resident Terry Jensen told KING-TV. “It’s a tragedy.”
An emergency transmitter was either activated on impact or by someone in the single-engine Cessna, said Tom Peterson, aviation emergency-services coordinator for the state Department of Transportation. While the sheriff’s helicopter followed the signal to the crash site, searchers using night-vision goggles spotted aircraft debris hanging from broken tree branches, Deputy Ken O’Neal said.
Ground searchers reached the crash site at daylight and found the bodies of the victims, West said.
One of the bodies was carried by a search-and-rescue team more than a mile through rugged terrain, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The other two victims were airlifted by helicopter to a medical examiner’s van near North Bend.
Little was immediately known about the plane’s itinerary, according to Fergus. He said the pilot had not been in contact with air traffic control.
Nighttime flying under visual rules without contacting air traffic control is permitted and not unusual, said National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator Wayne Pollack.