WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Coast Guard has released the names of 10 people who were on board a seaplane that crashed off Whidbey Island on Sunday.
Nine adults and a child were on board the plane when it crashed at 3.11pm. One person was found dead at the scene. The other nine victims are missing and presumed dead.
Jason Winters – Pilot
According to the Northwest Seaplanes Instagram account, Winters had been flying since 1995 and with Northwest Seaplanes since 2013.
A Verified GoFundMe for the Winters Family was created and raised over $20,000 in less than 24 hours.
According to the GoFundMe, created by a colleague at Northwest Seaplanes, Winters was a loving father and husband.
Sandra “Sandy” Williams
Williams was allegedly a civil rights activist who founded a black newspaper, The Black Lens, and a community center, Carl Maxey Center in Spokane, according to The Spokesperson’s Review.
Many people paid tribute to Williams, including State Senator Andy Billig, who serves Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District.
He spoke in part about Williams in a Facebook post, “Sandy was a leader in the best sense of the word. She worked with others to create a vision for positive change, developed a plan to achieve that change. Then she dug in to do the work and others lined up to follow her. Her incredible work to create the Carl Maxey Center will leave a legacy of positive impact for generations to come and she was also a driving force in creating and passing the bill to pass WSDOT surplus land through the center- is from vacant land to much-needed housing. We will miss you, Sandy. TO TEAR APART.”
Patricia “Patt” Hicks
According to the Seattle TimesPatt Hicks was a retired schoolteacher from Los Angeles who returned from a vacation in the San Juan Islands with her partner, Sandy Williams.
Pictured above is of (left to right) Williams, Spokane Board Member Betsy Wilkerson and Patt Hicks.
Luke Ludwig and Rebecca Ludwig
According to WCCO.com, a family member has confirmed that Luke Ludwig, 42, and his wife, Rebecca Ludwig, 42, were killed in the accident. The married couple from Minneapolis lived in Excelsior. Their children are safe and with other family members.
Joanne Mera, 60, is from San Diego and CEO of a successful event company. She was visiting her family at the time of the accident. She is survived by her three children, her husband of over 30 years, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. A family statement said: “Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards, she was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend. Our hearts are broken, no only for the loss of our family, but for the loss that we know other families are feeling right now.
Gabrielle Hanna, 29, was a rising lawyer in Seattle. In a statement from her employer, Cooley, they said: ‘Gabrielle Hanna, our colleague and friend, lost her life in a tragic seaplane accident which also claimed the lives of nine other people. Starting out as a summer associate with us, Gabby spent her all-too-brief legal career with Cooley. During her few years with the firm, Gabby had already established herself as a truly talented and team player who was dedicated to providing our clients with the highest quality service and advice. Equally important, Gabby was always quick to smile and was a true supporter – and contributor – of the Cooley culture. She will be deeply missed.
Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty and Remy Mickel
Ross Mickel was the owner of the Eastside-based business Ross Andrew Vineyard. His wife, Lauren Hilty, and their 22-month-old son, Remy, were also on the plane, according to a report by Seattle weather.
According to TMZ, Lauren Hilty is the sister of “Smash” actress Megan Hilty, who also played Glinda in “Wicked” on Broadway. Lauren was also pregnant at the time of the accident.
All of the victims were identified early Tuesday after the Coast Guard suspended its active search for nine of the 10 crash victims Monday afternoon.
The person whose body was found at the scene has been transferred to the Island County Coroner and has not yet been positively identified. It is Coast Guard policy not to release the names of deceased or missing persons until at least 24 hours after the next of kin has been notified.
“The Coast Guard offers its deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy,” said Cmdr. Xochitl Castañeda, the search and rescue mission coordinator for the crash.
The Coast Guard said in a statement it traveled 1,283 linear nautical miles and saturated an area of more than 2,100 square nautical miles during its search.
The single-engine seaplane that crashed was a DHC-3 Turbine Otter, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane is about 200 feet deep in water, according to South Whidbey Fire/EMS.
While the Coast Guard has turned over its findings to the NTSB to investigate the crash, if more debris washes up on shore as expected, Coast Guard search crews will likely return.
Meanwhile, experts share what could have gone wrong with the seaplane as it headed towards Renton.
Kathleen Bangs is a former commercial and seaplane pilot. She said she looked at FlightAware flight tracker data and the plane fell 700 feet into the water.
“Was there some kind of structural failure that happened so suddenly that there was absolutely nothing the pilot could do?” Because it looks like this plane hit the ocean completely out of control,” Bangs said.
Bangs said investigators will examine things like whether the pilot was incapacitated, whether the plane hit a bird or a drone, and how well the plane was maintained.
The area where the seaplane fell was mostly calm Tuesday, with only a Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife dive boat in the area.
“This is wreckage that needs to be located immediately and recovered immediately. I don’t understand why the Navy isn’t there,” said Seattle aviation attorney Alisa Brodkowitz, who argued the case. previous seaplane accidents.
She said the plane had to be found with sonar.
“Every minute that passes when the Navy isn’t there with their sonar and experienced divers means evidence is lost, and that means these families won’t be closed without this wreckage,” Brodkowitz said.
John Paul Johnston, executive director of the Divers Institute of Technology, said the plane is likely in pieces and drifting deep in currents and eddies.
Johnston says the plane can be found with side-scan sonar, and said calling a salvage company is another way to find the plane.
“There will be a lot of ships here, companies, that carry this type of equipment,” Johnston said.
Brodkowitz focuses on the structural integrity of the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter.
She said the plane’s history from 1963 shows a conversion from a piston to a turbine engine, which is usually done to give the plane more speed and faster lift.
To compensate for a change in the center of gravity, the nose of the aircraft was lengthened.
“The structure of the plane changes in the front, a firewall in the front, not a lot of structural changes in the rest; and then you put this super-fast motor in there and then there are problems,” Brodkowitz said.
Brodkowitz said engine conversions have led to structural fatigue and accidents in the past.
She wants the FAA to immediately instruct operators of converted Otters to conduct thorough structural inspections.
Navy officials told KIRO 7 they were not aware of any requests to use their resources to find the plane.
KIRO 7 asked the owner of Northwest Seaplanes if he planned to hire a salvage company or if the company was currently performing additional inspections, but he did not respond.
However, NTSB officials arrived in Washington state and provided an update Tuesday evening on the accident.
Investigators say the plane was traveling at approximately 1,000 feet when it plunged into the water.
Despite the stormy conditions at the time, KIRO 7 found that the aircraft appeared to be flying at a consistent altitude for flight and in the air for much longer than expected.
Investigators said the plane was flying for 35 minutes when it crashed, nearly double the time KIRO 7 crews were first told.
Pilot records and aircraft maintenance records have been obtained, investigators said.
They also review air traffic control data and weather information.
“The NTSB is now leading the search for the aircraft wreckage in conjunction with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is providing sonar equipment and personnel to search Mutiny Bay,” said Tom Chapman, member of the NTSB board of directors, during Tuesday evening’s briefing. “The typical lead time for an investigation is 18 to 24 months. This one is a little uncertain due to ongoing recovery efforts in regards to the search and hopefully recovery of the wreckage. This makes it a bit more unpredictable. These efforts continue. It is difficult to predict how long this will take. We are confident that the wreckage will be located.
Although the investigation is ongoing, this is not the first time seaplanes have crashed in western Washington.
In 2016, a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver carrying four people crashed at the southern end of Lopez Island.
All passengers were thrown into the water, but all were rescued by nearby boaters.
In July 2020, there were two seaplane crashes in Lake Washington. The first occurred on July 1 off Lakeside Avenue. Two people were on board. Both survived.
The second occurred on July 28, near Carillon Point in Kirkland.
This pilot also survived.
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