WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Coast Guard has released the names of 10 people who were on 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 – Driver
According to the Northwest Seaplanes Instagram account, Winters had been flying since 1995 and with Northwest Seaplanes since 2013.
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 have 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 (left to right) victim Sandy 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
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 will turn over its findings to the NTSB to investigate the crash, if more debris fails 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.
This isn’t 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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