LAFAYETTE -- A well-known local developer and his wife died in a private plane crash over the weekend in the mountains of central Utah, officials said.
California Bank of Commerce Director Peter Branagh and his wife Mona were flying in a small plane from Northern California to Aspen, Colo., on Saturday, but never arrived, prompting family members to call authorities.
A private helicopter crew hired by the family finally found wreckage believed to be from the plane Sunday in a remote canyon of Sevier County, Utah, according to Sheriff Nathan Curtis.
The area is an isolated patch of mountain desert, more than 20 miles from the nearest town. Investigators were still looking into the details of the crash Monday.
An e-mail from Peter Branagh's firm, Branagh Development, confirmed Monday the couple had died. The plane, a four-seat Cirrus SR22, had departed Saturday from Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The company will close its doors until Thursday, the e-mail said, adding, "Please bear with us as we mourn the tragic loss of Peter and Mona Branagh, who passed away this weekend in an airplane crash."
The couple were Lafayette residents for many years and Peter Branagh helped beautify and improve the community through developments, Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk said Monday.
Branagh and his firm were responsible for numerous projects throughout the city, perhaps
"It is just an absolutely gorgeous project," Falk said. "When we started, this was a piece of raw land, and rather than cut all the trees down and build as many houses as possible, Peter insisted on preserving all the mature oaks around the houses. That attention to detail and sensitivity for the environment distinguished Peter as a developer."
Falk said he'd worked with Branagh for about a decade on numerous projects.
"I think it's just a giant loss for our community," he said.
Members of the Branagh family could not immediately be reached, and California Bank of Commerce officials declined to comment.
Contact Sean Maher at 925-943-8013. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/OneSeanMaher.