San Diego business owner died in floatplane crash near Whidbey Island

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Joanne Mera, 60, was among 10 people who died in a floatplane crash near Whidbey Island. (Courtesy of family)

Joanne Mera, a 60-year-old business owner from San Diego, was returning home to celebrate a wedding anniversary when she was aboard a plane that crashed off Whidbey Island Sunday. 

Mera was visiting family in the Seattle area, according to her niece, Sami Sullivan, who sent a statement on behalf of the family. 

“Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated toward,” Sullivan said. “She was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mom, wife, sister and friend.

“Our hearts are shattered, not just for our family’s loss, but for the loss we know other families are feeling right now.”

The plane, a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otter owned by the charter service Northwest Seaplanes and operated by Friday Harbor Seaplanes, was traveling from Friday Harbor to Renton.

A woman’s body was recovered Sunday shortly after the crash by first responders. Around midday Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended rescue efforts.

Officials on Tuesday morning released the identities of all ten people who were aboard the floatplane.

“The Coast Guard offers its deepest sympathies to those who lost a loved one in this tragedy,” said Cmdr. Xochitl Castaneda, the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for this incident. 

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

In San Diego, Mera was CEO of Pacific Event Production, an event production, design and rental company with about 40 employees that works on large scale events for corporate clients, local organizations and nonprofits.

Her favorite thing to do at the events her company produced was to stand at the back of the room and watch the reactions as guests came in, according to the company website.

The company has lost its “matriarch,” co-CEO George Duff wrote in a statement. 

“As my business partner, work wife, friend and friend who became family, I have watched firsthand Joanne’s commitment to her family, her friends, her team, our clients and industry partners,”  Duff wrote. “Joanne was passionate about people, their stories and their dreams. Her bright colors, her love of being connected and her ability to bring levity to every conversation were hallmarks to PEP.”

At the time of the crash, Mera was headed back to San Diego to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband Victor, Duff said.

Mera is survived by her three children, her husband of more than 30 years, sisters, brother, nieces, nephews and “a whole lot of people who loved her,” Sullivan wrote.

Lauren Rosenblatt: 206-464-2927 or lrosenblatt@seattletimes.com; .