Coast Guard suspends search for 9 people missing after floatplane crashes off Whidbey Island

·3 min read

The United States Coast Guard has suspended its active search for the remaining nine missing people as of noon Monday after a floatplane crashed in Puget Sound.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that it had covered 1,283 linear nautical miles and saturated an area more than 2,100 square nautical miles during its search.

All next of kin have been notified of the agency’s decision.

The search for survivors ended after a floatplane with 10 people on board crashed Sunday in Mutiny Bay, just west of Whidbey Island.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nine adults and one child were on board the plane when it went down at 3:11 p.m.

One person’s body was recovered at the scene. Efforts were underway to find the nine additional victims, including the child.

The plane was flying from Friday Harbor to Renton Municipal Airport, which takes about 50 minutes. It was about halfway through the route when it crashed.

Eyewitnesses told Coast Guard officials that they saw the floatplane plummeting nose first into the waves.

Someone in Renton monitoring the floatplane’s route noticed something was off. The aircraft began to divert toward Port Townsend slightly. Radio contact was attempted, but they never got through to the pilot. No distress call was ever made.

“You see people, like down in Florida, for 10 or 12 days. Or you watch a movie where they go all the way across the Pacific. That’s a real thing,” said Scott Giard, with U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue.

“And the reason we’re out searching is we’re searching for survivors at this point. We generally assist in recovery operations, but at this moment, the Coast Guard is in full search and rescue mode to find survivors.”

However, Terry Ney, deputy chief of operations for South Whidbey Fire/EMS, said it’s unlikely anyone would be found alive.

“For whatever reason, it went straight for the water, didn’t even attempt a landing, went straight down into the water,” Ney said. “At this point, we’re not expecting to find any survivors.”

The single-engine float plane that crashed is a DHC-3 Turbine Otter, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane is about 200 feet deep in the water, according to South Whidbey Fire/EMS.

North Whidbey Fire marine units, Kitsap County Fire marine units, Everett Fire marine units, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Search & Rescue and USCG units assisted in the response.

The Federal Aviation Administration established a temporary flight restriction area around the crash zone.

The Coast Guard is handing over its findings to the NTSB, which is sending a team of seven people to investigate the cause of the crash. However, if more debris were to wash ashore as they expect it will, Coast Guard search crews would likely return.

At about 2:30 p.m. Monday, Northwest Seaplanes posted the following statement on their Instagram: