At least one person has died and nine others have yet to be found as a result of a seaplane crash that occurred near Mutiny Bay Sunday afternoon.
According to Jon Gabelein, public information officer for South Whidbey Fire/EMS, the accident occurred around 3:11 p.m. on Sept. 4 about one or two miles from the coast of South Whidbey.
There were 10 people aboard the downed plane, including one child. First responders and witnesses of the accident worked together to recover the body of one victim. The others remain missing; Gabelein said Sunday that it’s likely there are no survivors from the crash.
According to the Coast Guard, the seaplane belonged to Northwest Seaplanes and was operated by Friday Harbor Seaplanes. It left Friday Harbor around 2:50 p.m. on Sunday and was en route to Renton Municipal Airport when it crashed near Whidbey Island.
The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. No distress signal was received from the plane.
South Whidbey Fire/EMS, Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Coast Guard all responded to the call. For hours, South Whidbey residents could hear the sound of a Coast Guard helicopter canvassing the area. Recovery efforts continued into Sunday night and were suspended at noon on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard reported that the people onboard were Jason Winters, Sandra Williams, Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy Mickel, Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig and Gabrielle Hanna. Winters was the pilot and Remy Mickel was the young child of Ross Mickel and Lauren Hilty.
Chief Petty Officer William Colclough, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard, said the search can resume at any point if the Coast Guard receives credible information that missing persons have been located.
“After 26 extensive searches, the Coast Guard made the very difficult decision to suspend the search, pending further developments,” he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is beginning an investigation to determine the cause of the deadly crash. The Coast Guard will assist the federal agency.
Colclough said weather conditions at the time of the incident were “relatively normal,” with 10 nautical miles of visibility and winds less than 10 knots.