Coast Guard, partner agencies suspend search for missing pilot

Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

SEATTLE — The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies suspended search efforts at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a missing pilot in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The man took off mid-day Tuesday in his Cessna 170A from Ketchikan, Alaska, with the intended destination of Port Angeles.

“Suspending search efforts is always an extremely tough decision,” said Capt. Nathan Coulter, Chief of Search and Rescue for the U.S. Coast Guard’s 13th District. “This was an extensive search involving close coordination between numerous federal, state and local agencies. A huge thanks to the many women and men from the Canadian Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and good Samaritans who assisted in planning and carrying out this search effort. As is often the case, these boat, helicopter, and airplane crews answered the call instinctively and without delay to come to the aid of another. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the pilot involved.”

On Tuesday night shortly before 5 p.m., a mayday call from the man was relayed to Coast Guard units in Seattle. Sector Puget Sound command center immediately started search and rescue efforts after the report.

Before the single-engine airplane went down, the pilot described land formations he could see and ships that were in the area. The Coast Guard built a search area based upon that information. Most of the area covered consisted of the waters north and northwest of Port Angeles, up to the international boundary line.

Rescue crews completed 22 different search patterns and covered 1,170 square miles over the 23 hours of searching.

Crews and assets that assisted in the search:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Adelie and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat;
  • Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat;
  • Station Port Angeles 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and crew;
  • Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew;
  • MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew from U.S. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island;
  • Canadian Coast Guard cutter Sir Wilfred Laurier and crew;
  • Royal Canadian Air Force CC-115 Buffalo and crew;
  • Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant and crew;
  • Good Samaritan vessel crews.

To read the initial story, click here.

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