Crews continued searching Monday morning for nine people who remain unaccounted for after a floatplane crashed in Mutiny Bay, west of Whidbey Island.
Ten people, including one child, were aboard the plane when it crashed Sunday shortly after 3 pm A female’s body was recovered Sunday.
The plane, a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otter owned by the charter service Northwest Seaplanes, was traveling from Friday Harbor to Renton.
Updates from throughout Monday continue below.
Still a rescue mission, Coast Guard says
Scott Giard, search and rescue program director for the Pacific Northwest regional Coast Guard, said that as of Monday around 9 am the Coast Guard is still treating the search as a rescue, rather than a recovery, and that the remaining nine passengers are not presumed deceased.
Noting that water temperatures, the force of initial impact and other factors impact likelihood of survival, Giard said it’s possible that some passengers are still out there.
“If people really are out there and they’re alive and they want to live, that’s a huge factor,” Giard said, noting that responders are in “full search and rescue mode.”
He added that clear skies and calm winds created “ideal search conditions” early Monday.
The Coast Guard currently has two cutter ships searching the area between Port Townsend and Useless Bay for survivors or debris. A search plane out of Sacramento recently joined the search and a helicopter will arrive later.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to send divers on the search later.
Officials identified the area of the crash through a number of “good Samaritans” who reportedly saw the plane go down in Mutiny Bay, west of Bush Point on Whidbey Island.
So far, Coast Guard crews have recovered very limited debris from the crash—a seat from the plane, life jackets and a page from a book that included the plane’s tail number.
Giard encourages anyone who finds debris on nearby beaches to call 911.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are also investigating the crash.
—Sarah Grace Taylor
Passenger with similar itinerary recalls turbulent flight
Sonora Jha took off in a seaplane from Cortes Island, British Columbia early Sunday afternoon, traveling south to Kenmore, Washington where she landed just after 3 pm That itinerary meant her plane was in the air at the same general time and area as the flight that crashed Sunday off Whidbey Island.
The flight was turbulent from the start, she said. It was windy and the forecast showed a chance of thunderstorms. The flight company changed the passengers’ pickup point off Cortes Island at the last minute due to choppy waters. When the plane took to the air, it lurched and dipped throughout the ride. An inexperienced seaplane passenger, Jha posted a “half-playful” photo of the flight on social media, noting her nerves in the air.
But the other passengers were calm, she said. Her friend even nodded off. They reassured her that their pilot had 25 years of experience.
“The pilot looked relaxed,” she said.
When she heard about the crash later in the day, Jha was shocked. She took down her social media post out of respect and is now questioning whether she’ll ever board one of the small crafts again.
“I’m really heartbroken,” she said.
NTSB sends team
The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday morning it is sending a team of seven people to investigate the floatplane crash.
Coast Guard: No remains or debris found overnight
Coast Guard crews searched the waters off Whidbey Island on Sunday night and early Monday morning, but did not recover any bodies or debris, the agency said in a tweet Monday. The search will continue Monday and the scene is still considered the subject of active investigation. So far, one body has been recovered, while nine remain missing.
Coast Guard crews on the water Monday morning
US Coast Guard crews were on the water Monday morning, continuing the search for the people who remain unaccounted for after Sunday’s crash.
After recovering the body of one female on Sunday, officials have not indicated they’ve found any of the other nine people who were aboard the plane. The Coast Guard said Monday morning they did not have any additional updates. As of midnight Sunday, the agency said it would remain on scene overnight and bring in aircraft to assist with the search early Monday morning.
As of about 7 am Monday near Whidbey Island’s Bush Point boat ramp, at least two boats that appeared to be Coast Guard cutters were visible on the water in the distance. Kayakers gathered and people fished along the beach, which is in a residential area lined with homes.
—Sarah Grace Taylor