UNITED STATES NEWS

Search for survivors called off after small plane crashes in ocean south of San Francisco

Jan 15, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2024, 3:24 pm

Small plane crashes in ocean near San Francisco...

Search crews have found a small plane that crashed into the ocean off the California coast near San Francisco. (Tae Fuller Photo/via Pexels)

(Tae Fuller Photo/via Pexels)

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Search crews found the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed into the ocean off the California coast after witnesses reported it flying erratically, authorities said Monday. The search for survivors was called off after nearly six hours.

The crash was reported shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday by a 911 caller who said the plane was in obvious distress and appeared to go down toward the water near Half Moon Bay, said Sgt. Philip Hallworth with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

The Federal Aviation Administration said two people were aboard the Cozy Mark IV, a four-seat light aircraft that can be built from a kit. No information was immediately available about the plane’s occupants.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent out a diver and the sheriff’s office deployed a drone to search for the downed plane. At around 8:30 p.m. the drone’s video feed showed a small plane upside down near Ross Cove, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco, Hallworth said.

Small plane crashes in ocean, locals say

Melissa Richter was dining on a patio at Moss Beach Distillery when she said she heard an engine losing power, “like you hear in the movies, when a plane is about to crash.”

The plane came over the top of the building, she said.

“We figured something was wrong, because it was so close to the restaurant,” Richter told KRON-TV. She said the engine cut out, and the plane “banked in, and we lost sight of it at that point.”

The Coast Guard said a helicopter and boat crew looked in a 28-square mile (73-square-kilometer) area for nearly 6 hours before calling off the search around mid-morning Monday.

As of late morning, the tide had pushed part of the wreckage onto the shore near the cove, Hallworth told The Associated Press.

“We’ve been able to recover a good deal of it,” Hallworth said. “What we think is the fuselage we physically cannot bring up, so that’s actually still on the beach.”

The tide had become dangerous and forced the sheriff’s office to call off its search and rescue operations near the cove, he said.

The plane originated from the East Bay, Hallworth said, but he declined to name the exact airport it took off from.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

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Search for survivors called off after small plane crashes in ocean south of San Francisco