WARRENTON, Ore. — Coast Guard has suspended the search for survivors of the North American AT-6A aircraft that crashed into the water near Pier 39 in Astoria, Thursday.
“We’ve suspended the search at 3:56 p.m. after Coast Guard, Clatsop County crews and multiple good Samaritans saturated the search area with air and surface assets in an attempt to find the two people aboard,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Starr Franklin, operations unit controller at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “With heartfelt compassion for the friends and families of the two people on board, our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”
Coast Guard crews searched for more than 12 hours over the course of both days, conducting 10 searches and covering 387 trackline miles.
Watchstanders at Sector Columbia River received several reports around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday of a single engine aircraft crashing into the Columbia River.
A correlating overdue aircraft report was later filed for a missing silver and red aircraft with tail number N7055D and two people on board. The aircraft crew had taken off from Pearson Field Airport in Vancouver, Washington, around 3:30 p.m. and was reportedly en route to the mouth of the Columbia River.
Last cell phone use from the pilot’s phone was at 3:42 p.m. and in the vicinity of the crash site.
Two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria in Warrenton and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington, launched in response to search the area, in addition to Clatsop County Sheriff’s Officer boat crew with a side-scan sonar and divers.
The side-scan sonar showed an uncharted anomaly in the area; however the river current was too fast for divers to deploy. Sheening and bubbles from the site were observed.
At 8:15 p.m. all Coast Guard crews were recalled due to low visibility caused by heavy rain and fog, with plans for a first light search scheduled Thursday morning.
The search resumed with a MLB crew around 6:50 a.m. and a Jayhawk crew at 7:40 a.m. covering east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge in the area of the reported crash site, as well as the Oregon and Washington coastlines.
County divers arrived on scene around 9:30 a.m. with two Coast Guard personnel on board to assist, but conditions remained unfavorable for dive operations. Further Coast Guard operations pending aircraft identification.
The Coast Guard can resume an active search if credible information is received regarding the whereabouts of those missing. The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.