Two Coast Guard Cutters and multiple search planes were combing for survivors Monday after a seaplane crashed Sunday afternoon in the Puget Sound near Seattle.
One body was recovered from the scene and nine people remained unaccounted for, including one child, the Coast Guard said. The Renton, Washington, bound plane had departed from Friday Harbor.
Authorities said the cause of the crash had not been immediately determined.
“For whatever reason it went straight for the water, didn’t even attempt a landing, went straight down into the water,” Terry Ney, deputy chief of operations for South Whidbey Fire & Rescue, told KIRO-TV. “At this point, we’re not expecting to find any survivors.”
Plane crashed halfway through 50-minute flight
The crash was reported at 3:11 p.m. The plane, about halfway into the 50-minute flight, went down in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Seattle and about halfway between Friday Harbor and Renton.
The plane was operated by Friday Harbor Seaplanes for Northwest Seaplanes, which confirmed the crash to USA TODAY. Northwest Seaplanes says on its website that it is a family owned business that had logged over 24 years of accident and incident free flying.
Four Coast Guard boats, a rescue helicopter and a plane were involved in the initial search, along with nearby rescue and law enforcement agencies.
Coast Guard search teams cling to hope
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash, and the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily restricted flights in the area. Lt. Stephen Nolan, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the single-engine, propeller plane was a DHC-3 Otter. The planes generally can carry up to 10 passengers with a crew of two.
“I guarantee you there are very few people who want these people found (more) than our crews on scene,” Nolan told KIRO-TV. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy. You know, it’s difficult every single time. It really is.”
Recent sightseeing plane crashes
In July, 2020, a De Havilland Beaver operated by Brooke’s Seaplanes was on a scenic flight in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with five passengers and a pilot when it collided with a Cessna 206. Eight people were killed. The company was sold and reopened under new management in July.
In 2019, a midair crash in Alaska between two sightseeing planes killed six people. The Ketchikan-based floatplanes were carrying passengers from the same cruise ship, the Royal Princess, and were returning from tours of Misty Fjords National Monument.