OLYMPIA — A Tacoma pilot has been identified after his crashed plane was found in the wooded forests near Queets, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Rod Collen was found dead inside the 2006 Cessna T182 Turbo Skylane, DOT said on Monday. Searchers said he likely died on impact. He had been missing for 36 days.
The Collen family has been notified, DOT said in press release.
Collen departed from the Tacoma Narrows Airport at 5:35 p.m. March 6, and his plane fell off radar abruptly 45 minutes later.
DOT and partners searched a 36-square-mile wooded area for two weeks, and suspended the search on March 20 after finding no trace of the pilot or aircraft.
On April 7, crews returned to the area using a new hypothesis of what may have happened to the plane provided by a search and rescue partner in British Columbia, DOT said. Search conditions had improved greatly thanks to the warmer weather, which had made earlier efforts of locating a white plane difficult in snow.
During that flight, crews noticed some items of interest, but they could not be positively identified from the air, DOT said.
On Monday, a combined team from DOT Air Search and Rescue, the Quinault Emergency Management and a K9 team from the King County Search and Rescue Office hiked into the area and identified the aircraft in densely wooded terrain.
Assisting DOT Air Search and Rescue crews were the state Department of Natural Resources; Tacoma Police Department; Olympic National Park; Quinault Tribal Nation; Jefferson County, Grays Harbor County and Pierce County sheriff’s offices; U.S. Coast Guard; the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center; Civil Air Patrol National Forensics Radar Team and Washington Air Search and Rescue.