GARDINER — The lone victim of Wednesday afternoon’s airplane crash southwest of Gardiner was identified Thursday as David W. Hodges, 66, of Friday Harbor.
“We believe at this point the pilot had left Friday Harbor en route to Olympia. At this point there is no confirmed cause for the crash,” wrote Jefferson County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant Brett Anglin in an email.
A large fog bank, which limited visibility for rescue crews, is suspected to have contributed to the crash of the small plane, Anglin said.
Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were at the crash site conducting an investigation on Thursday, Anglin said.
The Federal Aviation Administration website on Thursday morning stated “aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.”
No known flight plan was filed.
The airplane was a Cirrus SR-22, which is a single-engine four- or five-seat composite aircraft built from 2001 by Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minn.
The crash site was described as being on state Department of Natural Resources land in the area between Diamond Point Road and the Maynard peak radio site. (GPS coordinates: 48.015721, -122.927071).
A Diamond Point resident reported at about 3 p.m. Wednesday hearing a low-flying aircraft with a possibly sputtering engine and a subsequent crash, according to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Clallam County Fire District 3 personnel were dispatched shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a report of an aircraft down in the Blyn/Gardiner area, according to a press release from the district.
Deputies from Clallam County and Jefferson County also responded. Clallam County Search and Rescue was requested along with a search and rescue helicopter from Naval Station Whidbey Island.
A witness who reported the crash gave an excellent description of where he thought the plane had gone down, the fire district release said.
The site was a mile away through thick forest. Getting there required searching logging roads for access, rescuers said.
Jefferson County deputies also employed two drones, which later were replaced by the helicopter.
The fire district release described the search: “Fog in the search area hampered the search. When a break in weather occurred, the helicopter was able to locate the crash site and lower crews down.
“A single victim was found.”
Deputies and search and rescue crews later arrived at the site on foot and made sure there were no additional victims.
Clallam County Fire District 3 Chief Ben Andrews said regarding the search and rescue effort, “As the responding duty chief I was very impressed with the level of assistance, co-operation, coordination and expertise shown by all of the responders.
“Several community members with local knowledge were also a great help in locating and accessing the crash site as quickly as we did.”
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at [email protected]