QUILCENE — The passenger who survived a plane crash near Quilcene on Friday has been identified by authorities while the investigation into the cause of the crash continues.
Brent Wood, 35, of Olympia was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center on Saturday morning after the small aircraft crashed into Buck Mountain, according to Arthur Frank, chief criminal investigator for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Wood was listed in satisfactory condition at Harborview as of Wednesday, according to Susan Gregg of Harborview communications.
Wood was described as in serious but stable condition by the Brinnon Fire Department on Saturday when first responders took him from the crash site to a ridge line where he was taken to Harborview by a Navy helicopter.
Wood survived the crash, but the pilot, 69-year-old Lance Atkins, also of Olympia, died. Wood reported the crash at 10:38 p.m. Friday, but it took first responders almost six hours to get to the crash site.
The plane, a Bellanca 8KCAB fixed-wing single-engine aircraft, was heading from Port Townsend to Shelton when it crashed, and the cause is still unknown. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is underway.
“We won’t issue a causal finding for many months,” said Michael Huhn, an investigator for the NTSB. “It is very early in the investigation. I’m still in the fact-collecting phase.”
Initially a helicopter from Naval Base Whidbey Island was called in to help locate the crash site at roughly 1 a.m., but low clouds and fog on the north face of Buck Mountain made the search difficult, according to a news release from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
“We had to fight the time of day, the environment, fatigue, dense foliage and numerous other elements that made it difficult to locate the survivor,” said Lt. Kellen Odom, the search and rescue mission commander.
According to Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly, first responders used GPS from Wood’s cellphone and the plane’s beacon to pinpoint the crash site, and search and rescue crews were sent in on foot.
Manly said 13 first responders located the crash site at about 5 a.m. Saturday.
Members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Quilcene Fire &Rescue, Brinnon Fire Department, Olympic Mountain Rescue and Jefferson Search and Rescue responded to the crash Friday.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.