At about 09:50 Pacific time, a Piper PA-32R-300 struck a mountain at the 4,800-foot msl level 15 miles south/southeast of Essex, killing the pilot and passenger. The accident site was 34 miles south-southwest of the departure airport. The airport is in a valley and it was clear overhead; however, the mountain tops were obscured above 4,000 feet in dark clouds in all directions. The accident site was on a steep, rocky, desert mountain slope about 100 feet below a local peak. The wreckage was lying at the base of a vertical rock face and there was shiny aluminum debris embedded in the rock face about 50 feet above the resting location of the wreckage.