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Victims identified in seaplane crash near Whidbey Island; 9 still missing

caption: A Coast Guard helicopter searches the area where a floatplane crashed near Whidbey Island, Wash., Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022.
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A Coast Guard helicopter searches the area where a floatplane crashed near Whidbey Island, Wash., Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022.

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for nine people still missing following a seaplane crash in Mutiny Bay on Sunday.

One deceased person's body was recovered shortly after the crash, but officials say little else — including signs of any survivors — has been found since.

The Coast Guard has released the names of the people who were aboard Sunday’s flight:

  • Jason Winters (pilot)
  • Patricia Hicks
  • Sandra Williams
  • Lauren Hilty
  • Remy Mickel (minor)
  • Ross Mickel
  • Luke Ludwig
  • Rebecca Ludwig
  • Joanne Mera
  • Gabrielle Hanna

The person whose body was recovered on Sunday has not yet been identified by the Coast Guard.

After hours of searching thousands of miles of ocean, Coast Guard spokesperson William Colclough said Monday, “the Coast Guard made the very difficult decision to suspend the search after finding no signs of survivors aboard the seaplane.”

Colclough said the plane left Friday Harbor on San Juan Island Sunday afternoon and was bound for Renton Municipal Airport, just south of Seattle.

The first reports of an aircraft crash in Whidbey Island’s Mutiny Bay came in around 3:11 p.m. to Island County Public Safety. Emergency dispatch audio recordings include a person in a nearby sailboat who reported seeing no sign of the plane. People in boats hurried to the area immediately after the crash and helped find one person’s body.

"Coast Guard sends a heartfelt thanks to all the good Samaritans who rushed toward the crash,” Colclough said, “and were the first on scene, actually."

Coast Guard crews searched until noon on Monday using boats, helicopters, and airplanes. Multiple local emergency response agencies helped with the search, including South Whidbey Fire, Island County Sheriff’s Office, and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office.

The Coast Guard said its search mission covered 1,283 linear nautical miles.

The float plane, a DH3-3T Turbine Otter, was owned by Northwest Seaplanes and operated by Friday Harbor Seaplanes. The model has been around since the 1950s and is often seen around the San Juan Islands.

The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, has sent a team of seven people to Whidbey Island to investigate the cause of the crash, according to a tweet from the agency. Colclough said, “the Coast Guard will assist the NTSB with that investigation and also assisting with the salvage and recovery of any debris from the aircraft.”

So far, a few pieces of metal, an airplane seat, and some personal belongings have been recovered.

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