Washington state seaplane crash victims included activist and winemaker – Sooke News Mirror
A civil rights activist, business owner, lawyer, engineer and winery founder and his family were aboard the seaplane that crashed in the waters of Puget Sound, Utah. Washington State, killing 10 people.
The US Coast Guard released the names of the victims on Tuesday. The body of one of the dead was found after the crash on Sunday afternoon, but the other nine are still missing despite extensive searches.
The Northwest Seaplanes flight was en route from Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, to a suburb of Seattle when it crashed without sending out a distress call. The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the Federal Aviation Administration issued a safety directive for the type of aircraft involved earlier this year.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the crash of the DHC-3 Otter. At a Tuesday night press conference, NTSB’s Tom Chapman said on-site investigators would not speculate on the cause of the crash and that crews were gathering information on the roughly 35-minute flight.
Chapman said the agency was leading the search for the wreckage and sonar equipment was being used.
The dead include pilot Jason Winters, activist Sandy Williams, winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty and their child Remy Mickel. Passengers Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig and Gabrielle Hanna were also killed. The Coast Guard did not provide hometowns.
Williams, of Spokane, Washington, was a lecturer, filmmaker, founder of the Carl Maxey Center and editor of The Black Lens, an African-American newspaper.
“Sandy was a voice for the voiceless, a tireless advocate for marginalized people in Spokane, a journalist unafraid to speak truth to power, a builder of hope in her vision for the Carl Maxey Center, and a friend beloved to countless members of our community,” the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force posted on Facebook.
Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University, said the community had lost a leader, a teacher, an activist and a powerful voice.
Also from Spokane, Hicks was a retired teacher.
Mickel was the founder of the Ross Andrew Winery in Woodinville, Washington.
“We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated by the loss of our beloved Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their unborn baby boy, Luca,” the Mickel and Hilty families said in a statement. “Our collective grief is unimaginable. They were a bright, shining light in the lives of all who knew them.
The Washington State Wine Commission said in an email that Ross had “an incredible impact on the Washington wine community” and will be dearly missed.
Mera was a San Diego business owner, the Seattle Times reported. Her niece, Sami Sullivan, said she was visiting family in Seattle. She leaves behind three children and a husband of more than 30 years, Sullivan said.
“Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards,” Sullivan said in a statement. “She was the life of any party and the soul of our family.”
The Ludwigs, a couple from Minnesota, also perished in the accident. Luke Ludwig was an engineering leader at Arizona-based HomeLight Home Loans.
“The entire HomeLight team sends its deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of Luke and Becca,” the company said in an email. “Luke was a deeply dedicated father, husband, outdoorsman and coach for his children’s sports teams, known for his remarkable kindness and generous spirit.”
Seattle attorney Gabby Hanna was returning from a friend’s wedding when the plane crashed, the Seattle Times reported.
“She was a fierce, fierce young woman, in the best way possible,” said her father, Dave von Beck. “There are no words to describe the pain.”
The Coast Guard ended the search for survivors Monday afternoon. The plane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, halfway between Friday Harbor and its destination in Renton.
The owner of the seaplane company was aboard one of two flights that took off on Sunday, Scott Giard, director of search and rescue for the U.S. Coast Guard for the Pacific Northwest, said during the ‘a press conference.
The owner told authorities he saw the other plane deviate slightly from its course and tried to establish radio contact but was unable to.
“Soon after, he noticed on his flight tracker that the flight had stopped tracking and notified authorities,” Giard said.
Officials received reports that “the plane suddenly fell at good speed and hit the water,” Giard said.
There was no distress call or beacon from the plane that crashed, he said. The plane has an electronic locator transmitter on board, but it has not received any transmissions.
Steven Wallace, former director of accident investigations for the FAA bureau, said the NTSB will review all other accidents with this type of aircraft, all safety guidelines and company maintenance records as he tries to find out why the plane hit the water.
“As the investigation begins, all possibilities are on the table,” Wallace said.
One accident that will be interesting is the 2019 crash of the same model seaplane in Manitoba, Canada, he said. A DHC-3 Otter with a pilot and two passengers was heading for Family Lake when the plane’s right wing separated. The plane nose-dived into the lake, killing everyone on board, according to the accident report.
Following the lead of Canadian officials, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive for these planes in March that required inspections of lugs, bolts and plates to ensure the wing strut is secure, according to the order. of the agency.
“Failure of a wing mast could lead to catastrophic wing failure in flight,” the report said.
Coast Guard searchers found “minimal debris,” Giard said.
Without a clear picture of the actual crash, and without knowing whether it exploded on impact or immediately sank to the seabed 150 to 200 feet (45 to 60 meters) below, it is difficult to know what happened to the plane, he said.
Martha Bellisle and Manuel Valdes, The Associated Press
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