Search for Missing Pilot Postponed

Plane and searchers

In the foreground, the ultralight that crashed sits on the beach while a boat searching for its pilot zips past on the river. [Image provided by Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue]

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue are postponing the search for the local pilot missing since the crash of his ultralight plane on Thursday. Windy weather and high, murky water have hampered search efforts.

“As of today, unless something changes, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Tech Rescue will be postponing our operations till later in the week,” explained Diana Totten a spokesperson for the Tech Rescue team. “Hopefully, by then conditions will improve…Our hearts go out to the family. They will be continuing the search in the days to come.”

Aurora Studebaker Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue May 5, 2017

Aurora Studebaker of Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue was one of many searching for the missing pilot. [Photo provided by Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team]

Totten stated,

Today marks the 3rd day of a coordinated effort to find the pilot. The HCSO with Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue swimmers and many family and friends have searched hard in the area of the ultralight plane crash. We have also extended the search several miles downstream.

During the last 3 days the water has been swift moving and very murky with practically zero visability
and then today with the strong wind, it has been extremely challenging.

With the snow melt from the Yolla Bollies, the river has remained very swift complicating our work.

A number of agencies, volunteer groups, and private individuals have been part of the search–Fruitland Ridge Fire Department, Redcrest Fire Department, Cal Fire, the Coast Guard, Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue, Humboldt County Sheriffs Department with jet boats, as well as five private boats belonging to family and friends, several jet skis, private divers, several private planes, and dozens of volunteers.

Totten said these groups have all been working in a coordinated effort. “We have safety briefings as well as strategic planning so we can all work together effectively in very hazardous conditions,” she explained.

Totten says her team hopes to resume the search when conditions are more favorable.

Totten wanted to thank “all who donated food and drinks for the search effort.”

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