Names of 10 people killed in floatplane crash released after search suspended

The plane carrying 10 people crashed Sunday in Washington's Puget Sound.

September 6, 2022, 1:22 PM

The names of 10 people who perished after a floatplane crashed in Washington's Puget Sound were released on Tuesday, a day after a search for nine of the victims was suspended, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard called off the search around noon local time on Sunday after conducting 26 search sorties it said covered about 2,100 square nautical miles.

"The Coast Guard offers its deepest sympathies to those who lost a loved one in this tragedy," Coast Guard Cmdr. Xochitl Castaneda, the search and rescue mission coordinator for this incident, said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Those presumed dead from the crash were identified by the Coast Guard as Jason Winters, the pilot of the aircraft, and passengers Patricia Hicks, Sandra Williams, Lauren Hilty, Ross Mickel, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig, Joanne Mera and Gabrielle Hanna. Also killed was a child, identified as Remy Mickel, according to the Coast Guard.

The body of only one person aboard the aircraft was recovered, but the Coast Guard did not say which of the victims the remains were identified as belonging to.

PHOTO: A U.S. Coast Guard vessel searches the area, Sept. 5, 2022, near Freeland, Wash., on Whidbey Island north of Seattle where a chartered floatplane crashed.
A U.S. Coast Guard vessel searches the area, Sept. 5, 2022, near Freeland, Wash., on Whidbey Island north of Seattle where a chartered floatplane crashed.
Stephen Brashear/AP

Among those killed was Ross Mickel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty and their young son, Remy, their family said in a statement. Ross Mickel was the founder of Ross Andrew Winery in Woodinville, Washington.

"We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated at 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 and shining light in the lives of everyone who knew them."

The Washington State Wine Commission said in an email to ABC affiliate station KOMO in Seattle that Ross Mickel had "an incredible impact on the Washington wine community" and will be greatly missed.

Another victim, Sandra Williams, was a lecturer, filmmaker, founder of the Carl Maxey Center in Spokane, Washington, and editor of The Black Lens, an African American-focused newspaper, according to KOMO.

"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 beloved friend to countless members of our community," The Spokane County Human Rights Task Force said in a Facebook post.

Joanne Mera, a married mother of adult children, was a San Diego business owner, who was visiting family in Seattle when the crash occurred, her niece, Sami Sullivan, told The Seattle Times.

"Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards," Sullivan said in a statement to the newspaper. "She was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mom, wife, sister and friend."

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation into the accident.

Capt. Daniel Broadhurst, the incident management branch chief for the 13th Coast Guard District, described the agonizing decision to end the search after no signs were found of the remaining nine victims or wreckage from the aircraft.

"It is always difficult when it comes time to make a decision to stop searching," Broadhurst said in a statement Sunday. "The hearts of all the first responders go out to those who lost a family member, a loved one or a friend in the crash."

The de Havilland DHC-3 Otter float plane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island around 3:10 p.m. local time Sunday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

There were 10 people onboard, nine adults and one child, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

PHOTO: Fire and Rescue crews search for a float plane that crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, Wash., Sept. 4, 2022.
Fire and Rescue crews search for a float plane that crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, Wash., Sept. 4, 2022.

At the time the search was suspended, rescue crews were focusing on Mutiny Bay, west of Whidbey Island, according to the Coast Guard.

"The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate," the FAA said. "The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates."

The NTSB said on Twitter Monday that it is sending a seven-member team to investigate the crash.

The plane was traveling from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle when it crashed, the USCG said, with the cause of the crash unknown at this time. The Coast Guard had initially said the plane was traveling from Friday Harbor to Seattle Tacoma International Airport, which it later corrected.

The Coast Guard responded to a report of the crash that was initially said to have eight adults and one child onboard, according to USCG Pacific Northwest. The USCG later corrected its statement, saying there were 10 people unaccounted for in the crash.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS said that its crew was at the scene near the west side of Whidbey Island.

ABC News' Jenna Harrison, Marilyn Heck, Teddy Grant and Michelle Stoddart contributed to this report.