The US Coast Guard continued to search Monday for nine people, including a child, missing after a seaplane crashed in Puget Sound waters northwest of Seattle.
The body of a 10th person was recovered by a Good Samaritan on Sunday after the crash was reported at 3:11 p.m., Coast Guard spokesman William Colclough said Monday.
The Northwest Seaplanes flight departed Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, and was heading for Renton Municipal Airport, the company’s base, Colclough said.
The plane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, about 50 kilometers northwest of downtown Seattle and halfway between Friday Harbor and Renton, a suburb south of Seattle.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced Monday that it is sending a seven-person team to investigate the DHC-3 Turbine Otter crash.
The cause of the crash is unknown, authorities said.
Jon Gabelein of South Whidbey Fire/EMS said KOMO witnesses on the shore reported seeing the plane “nose into the water”.
Four Coast Guard vessels, a rescue helicopter and an aircraft were involved in the extensive search, along with nearby rescue and law enforcement agencies.
The Coast Guard said crews searched throughout the night, “but no additional individuals were recovered and no debris was located. Coast Guard aircraft are beginning a search this morning. It remains an active search. .
According to the company’s website, Northwest Seaplanes is a family business founded by Clyde Carlson. It has 24 years of “accident-free and incident-free flight,” the website said.
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. The only seaplane at the dock appeared to be a small private Cessna.
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 Northwest Seaplanes website says its sister company Friday Harbor Seaplanes offers daily flights to and from their base in Renton and the San Juan Islands, a scenic archipelago northwest of Seattle that draws tourists from around the world.
Seaplanes, which have pontoons allowing them to land on water, are commonplace around Puget Sound, an inlet to the Pacific Ocean. There are several daily flights between the Seattle area and the San Juan Islands.
These planes, which also fly between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, frequently fly over Seattle and land on Lake Washington and Lake Union, not far from the city’s iconic Space Needle.
The airport where Sunday’s flight was headed is at the southern tip of Lake Washington, less than 5 miles from Seattle. It is located next to a Boeing factory and is best known for where the new 737s first hit the skies.
In July 2020, a De Havilland Beaver operated by Brooke’s Seaplanes was on a scenic flight in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with five passengers and a pilot when it collided with a Cessna 206. Eight people were killed.
In 2019, a mid-air crash in Alaska between two passenger planes killed six people. Seaplanes based in Ketchikan carried passengers from the same cruise ship, the Royal Princess, and returned from visits to Misty Fjords National Monument.
Martha Bellisle, Associated Press
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