On September 4th, 2022, ten people were lost in a tragic accident off the coast of Whidbey Island following the crash of a Northwest Seaplanes DHC-3 Otter. The flight departed from Friday Harbor at 14:50 local time, and its last position was reported at 15:09.
The ADB-S data shows a constant cruise at 800 feet followed by swift descent into the water.
A US Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched from Port Angeles and was on site within an hour of the crash. Multiple sorites have been flown, and two Coast Guard cutters have searched all night looking for survivors; however, none were found.
FAA established a temporary flight restriction around the bay, and the Coast Guard established an exclusion zone for boat traffic. NTSB has dispatched a seven-member response team to join the investigation.
There is no indication the pilot radioed a distress call or activation of the emergency beacon (ELT). It is not likely the aircraft carried a flight data recorder. The wreckage will be the best way to learn what went wrong. While some debris was initially recovered the day of the crash, sonar equipment has yet to pinpoint the fuselage.
A preliminary NTSB report could be available in three to four weeks, but a full crash investigation could take a year and a half or more.
The Coast Guard identified the victims as Jason Winters, Patricia Hicks, Sandra Williams, Lauren Hilty, Remy Mickel, Ross Mickel, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig, Joanne Mera, and Gabrielle Hanna.
Our sincere thoughts and condolences go out to the families of the passengers and pilot.
This accident hits very close to home for Aviation Law Group, as we are headquartered in Seattle, and our attorneys, who are all pilots, have spent many years flying in the Pacific Northwest, including flying seaplanes.