Seaplane crash victims include activist and winemaker

Seaplane crash victims include activist and winemaker

WHIDLEY ISLAND, Washington (AP) — A civil rights activist, business owner, lawyer, engineer and winery founder and his family were on a seaplane that crashed in the waters of Puget Sound in Washington state, killing 10 people.

The US Coast Guard released the names of the victims early Tuesday morning. The body of one of the victims was found after the accident on Sunday afternoon, but the other nine are still missing despite extensive searches.

A Northwest Seaplanes flight was en route from Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, to a Seattle suburb when it crashed without sending a distress signal. The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the Federal Aviation Administration issued a safety directive for the aircraft type earlier this year.

Pilot Jason Winters, activist Sandy Williams, winemaker Ross Andrew Mikel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty and their child Remy Mikel are among the dead. Also killed were passengers Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig and Gabriel Hanna. 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-oriented newspaper.

“Sandy was the voice of the silent, a tireless advocate for marginalized people in Spokane, a journalist unafraid to tell the truth to authorities, a builder of hope in her vision for the Carl Maxey Center, and a beloved friend to countless members of our community. “, the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force said in a Facebook post.

Thane McCullough, president of Gonzaga University, said the community has lost a leader, teacher, activist and influencer.

Also from Spokane, Hicks was a retired teacher.

Mikel was the founder of the Ross Andrew Winery in Woodinville, Washington.

“We are deeply saddened and devastated by the loss of our beloved Ross Mikel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their future baby boy, Luca,” Mikel and Hilty’s family said in a statement. “Our collective grief is unimaginable. They were a bright and shining light in the lives of all who knew them.”

The Washington State Wine Commission said in an email that Ross has made “an incredible impact on the Washington wine community” and will be greatly missed.

According to The Seattle Times, Mera was a business owner from San Diego. Her niece Sami Sullivan said she was visiting family in Seattle. According to Sullivan, she is survived by three children and a husband who is over 30 years old.

“Joanne Mera was the one everyone was drawn to,” Sullivan said in a statement. “She was the soul of every party and the soul of our family. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend.”

The Ludwigs, a couple from Minnesota, also died in the plane crash. Luke Ludwig was the lead engineer at HomeLight Home Loans in Arizona.

“The entire HomeLight team extends our deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of Luke and Becky,” the company said in a statement. “Luke was a deeply devoted father, husband, outdoor enthusiast and coach of his children’s sports teams, known for his amazing kindness and generosity.”

According to The Seattle Times, Seattle lawyer Gabby Hanna was returning from a friend’s wedding when the plane crashed.

“She was a violent, violent young woman at best,” her father, Dave Von Beck, said in an interview Tuesday. “There are no words to describe the pain. The family loved her very much.”

The Coast Guard completed the search for survivors on Monday afternoon. The plane crashed in Mutini Bay off Whidbey Island, about halfway between Friday Harbor and its destination in Renton.

The owner of the seaplane was on one of two flights that departed on Sunday, Scott Jard, US Coast Guard director of search and rescue for the Pacific Northwest, told a news conference.

The owner told authorities that he saw the other aircraft veer slightly off course and attempted to establish radio contact but was unable to.

“Shortly after that, he noticed on his flight tracker that the flight was no longer being tracked and notified the authorities,” Jard said.

Officials received reports that “the plane suddenly crashed at high speed and hit the water,” Jard said. “At the moment we have no video or photos of the incident.”

According to him, neither a distress signal nor a distress signal from the crashed plane was received. The aircraft has an electronic transmitter on board, but it has not received any transmission.

A National Transportation Safety Board team is investigating the crash of the DHC-3 Otter but had released no information by Tuesday afternoon.

Stephen Wallace, former director of the FAA’s Office of Air Accident Investigation, said the NTSB would look at all other accidents with the aircraft type, any safety directives and the company’s maintenance records, in an attempt to figure out why the plane crashed into the water.

“At the beginning of the investigation, all possibilities are considered,” Wallace said.

One crash that will be of interest, he says, is the crash of the same seaplane model in Manitoba, Canada in 2019. A DHC-3 Otter with a pilot and two passengers was en route to Family Lake when the aircraft’s right wing was torn off. According to the accident report, the aircraft dived into the lake, killing all on board.

Following guidance from Canadian authorities, in March the FAA issued an airworthiness directive for these aircraft that requires inspection of lugs, bolts and plates to ensure wing strut strength, as ordered by the agency.

“Failure of the wing strut can lead to catastrophic failure of the wing in flight,” the report said.

According to Giard, Coast Guard searchers found “a minimum of debris.” By Monday afternoon, they found only three or four long, narrow pieces of aluminum, very few personal items, a seat, and a few small pieces of Styrofoam.

Without a clear picture of the actual crash, and whether it exploded on impact or immediately sank to the seabed at a depth of 150 to 200 feet (45 to 60 meters), it is difficult to know what happened to the aircraft, he said.

According to the company’s website, Northwest Seaplanes is a family business founded by Clyde Carlson. The company posted a Facebook message late Monday night saying they were heartbroken.

“We do not yet know any details about the cause of the accident,” the report said. “We work with the FAA, NTSB and Coast Guard. We kept in touch with the families. We pray for the families involved, including our pilot and his family.”

said Bellisle of Renton, Washington.

About the photo: A US Coast Guard boat and a Kitsap boat, Washington State, Sherrif County, search the area, Monday, September 5, 2022, near Freeland, Washington, on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, where a chartered seaplane crashed the day before. . The plane was carrying 10 people and was flying from Friday Harbor, Washington, to Renton, Washington (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear).

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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