10 dead in seaplane crash in Puget Sound
WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (AP) — A Spokane, Wash. civil rights activist, business owner and winery founder and his family were on board the seaplane that crashed in the waters of Puget Sound, killing 10 people.
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The US Coast Guard released the names of the victims on Tuesday. The body of one of the dead was recovered by a Good Samaritan after the crash on Sunday afternoon. The other nine are still missing despite extensive searches.
The Northwest Seaplanes flight was en route from Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, to a suburb of Seattle when it crashed without sending out a distress call.
The dead include pilot Jason Winters, activist Sandy Williams, winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty and their child Remy Mickel. Passengers Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig and Gabrielle Hanna were also killed. The Coast Guard did not provide hometowns.
Mickel was the founder of Woodinville-based Ross Andrew Winery.
“We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated by the loss of our beloved Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their unborn baby boy, Luca,” the Mickel and Hilty families said in a statement. “Our collective grief is unimaginable. They were a bright, shining light in the lives of all who knew them.
The Washington State Wine Commission said in an email that Ross had “an incredible impact on the Washington wine community” and will be dearly missed.
Williams was a lecturer, filmmaker, founder of the Carl Maxey Center and editor of The Black Lens, a newspaper focused on African Americans.
“Sandy was a voice for the voiceless, a tireless advocate for marginalized people in Spokane, a journalist unafraid to speak truth to power, a builder of hope in her vision for the Carl Maxey Center, and a friend beloved to countless members of our community.” The Spokane County Human Rights Task Force said on Facebook.
Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University, said the community had lost a leader, a teacher, an activist and a powerful voice.
“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Sandy Williams and we @GonzagaU send our condolences to his family, many friends and colleagues,” he tweeted. “Sandy: Rest in peace.”
Joanne Mera was a San Diego business owner, the Seattle Times reported. Her niece, Sami Sullivan, said she was visiting family in Seattle when the accident happened. She leaves behind three children and a husband of more than 30 years, Sullivan said.
“Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards,” Sullivan said in a statement. “She was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend.
The Coast Guard ended the search for survivors Monday afternoon after it “saturated an area” of more than 2,100 square nautical miles (nearly 2,800 square miles or 7,250 square kilometers).
“All next of kin have been notified of this decision,” the Coast Guard said on Twitter. “Our hearts go out to the families, loved ones and friends of the missing and deceased.”
The plane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, about 50 miles northwest of downtown Seattle and halfway between Friday Harbor and its destination in Renton, just south of Seattle.
Whidbey Island resident Jeff Brewny and his wife were walking their dog on Sunday when they heard a loud boom.
“The first thought was thunder. It was so loud,” he said. “There was no flash like you have with lightning. So, you know, I thought it was a boat that had exploded. It was so devastating. My dog has gone mad.
The owner of the seaplane company was aboard one of two flights that took off on Sunday, Scott Giard, director of search and rescue for the U.S. Coast Guard for the Pacific Northwest, said during the a new conference.
The owner told authorities he saw the other plane deviate slightly from its course and tried to establish radio contact but was unable to.
“Soon after, he noticed on his flight tracker that the flight had stopped tracking and notified authorities,” Giard said.
Officials received reports that “the plane suddenly fell at good speed and hit the water,” Giard said. “We don’t have any video or photos of the incident at this time.”
There was no distress call or beacon from the plane that crashed, he said. The plane has an electronic locator transmitter on board, but it has not received any transmissions.
“It’s very typical in times when there’s either a hard landing or a plane crash,” he said.
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The cause of the crash is unknown, authorities said.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced Monday that it is sending a seven-person team to investigate the DHC-3 Turbine Otter crash.
Coast Guard searchers found “minimal debris,” Giard said. By Monday afternoon, they had found only three to four long, narrow pieces of aluminum, very few personal items, a seat, and a few small pieces of foam.
Without a clear picture of the actual crash, and without knowing whether it exploded on impact or immediately sank to the seabed 150 to 200 feet (45 to 60 meters) below, it is difficult to know what happened to the plane, he said.
According to the company’s website, Northwest Seaplanes is a family business founded by Clyde Carlson.
The company’s business office next to the seaplane dock at Renton Municipal Airport remained closed behind a fence Monday. The only visible activity was two people hugging near the front door.
A woman who answered the phone early Monday said she was waiting to hear more and was devastated by the accident.
“It’s a small crew. Everyone is close,” said the woman, who would only give her first name, Michelle. She declined to say more.
The company posted a message on Facebook on Monday evening saying it was heartbroken.
“We don’t yet know any details regarding the cause of the crash,” the post said. “We work with the FAA, NTSB and Coast Guard. We have been in contact with the families. We pray for the families involved, including our pilot and his family. »
Bellisle reported from Renton, Washington.