Officials on Friday confirmed the identities of the seven people whose bodies have been recovered after last month’s floatplane crash off Whidbey Island, including the remains that washed ashore nearly two weeks after the crash.
Crews had been working for weeks to locate and identify the nine passengers and one pilot who died after the floatplane plunged into Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island. The cause of the Sept. 4 crash, which occurred after the de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otter took off from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands en route to Renton, is still under investigation.
The remains that washed ashore at Dungeness Spit were identified this week as Patricia Hicks, according to the Clallam County Coroner’s Office. Family members were notified Thursday, Deputy Coroner Nathan Millett said.
Island County Emergency Management said the bodies of pilot Jason Winters and passengers Sandra Williams, Ross Mickel, Luke Ludwig and Rebecca Ludwig have been found and identified. The remains of a seventh victim, Gabby Hanna, were found shortly after the crash.
The bodies of three other victims have not been found.
Recovery operations concluded last Friday after the majority of the aircraft was recovered, National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Jennifer Gabris said. NTSB investigators are examining the wreckage at a secure facility, she added.
Remotely operated vessels plunged more than 150 feet to pull the wreckage, including the plane’s engine, to the surface.
Though recovery efforts ended last week, some of the victims’ families said they were looking into ways a search can continue for the three bodies that haven’t been found.
This includes the families of Hanna and Mickel, whose wife, Lauren Hilty, and son, Remy Mickel, were also killed in the crash.
Neither Hilty’s nor her son’s bodies have been found. Hilty was pregnant with a baby boy she and her husband planned to name Luca.
Joanne Mera is the third victim whose remains have not been found.
“Until our clients’ family members have been recovered, they will struggle to find closure,” said Craig Sims, an attorney with Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, which is representing some of the victims’ families. “We remain thankful for the outpouring of public support for finding out the truth of what caused this tragedy.”