Monday, September 26, 2022

Aviation emergency services division successfully locates two survivors near Lyman following missing plane event

By Tina Werner

An 18-hour air and ground search for a missing plane along State Route 20 between Concrete and Sedro-Woolley came to a successful conclusion Monday as a search coordinated by our agency located two survivors of a crash near the small town of Lyman in Skagit County.

The survivors, the sole occupants of the plane, were spotted near a clearing which led to the foothills south of SR 20. They blended into the foliage, so crews had to look carefully to find them in the early morning hours.

The small Cessna aircraft were last seen after reportedly leaving the Concrete airport at 2:16 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25. The plane was headed to a private airstrip the pilot owned just west of Snohomish.

This small Cessna plane went missing on Sunday, Sept. 25 between Concrete and Sedro-Woolley but on Sunday search teams were able to successfully locate the pilot and passenger.

The search involved several agencies, but why were we involved? When a plane or helicopter goes missing, our on-call Aviation Emergency Services coordinator is notified by the Washington State Emergency Management Division or the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Those agencies receive notice from local emergency services.

Our pilot, who is also the search coordinator, was notified at 8:30 p.m. Sunday and immediately began air search and rescue efforts. The Skagit and Snohomish county sherriff’s offices also led a ground search Sunday night. The search continued Monday by air and ground and around 8 a.m. our pilot located the two occupants near the wooded area. They had walked about a half mile from the crash site to get to a clearing with hopes of being rescued in the daylight. They were exhausted and transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

A look at the rescue site on Monday near Lyman south of SR 20. The small helicopter (circled) was onsite with a medic onboard to provide medical attention and
transport the survivors to a nearby hospital.

Crews worked in an area that was identified as a high probability range by the radar and cell phone forensics teams at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. While flying, our Aviation Emergency Services pilot could detect a signal on the emergency frequency which led into the foothills south of SR 20 near Lyman. That is how they were able to pinpoint the last known signal of the aircraft and locate the pilot and passenger.

The crash survivors blended into the foliage so it took a carefully trained eye
by our pilot to locate them Monday morning.

The names of the pilot and passenger are not being released at this time. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the crash.

We are thankful they were found alive as many searches don’t always have a positive outcome. Our thoughts and well wishes are with them as they are reunited with their families thanks to the efforts of all the crews and partners who worked on this mission. This is yet another example of the important work done by our Aviation Emergency Services team, and we thank them for their around-the-clock dedication to serve the citizens of our state.