[UPDATE 8 p.m.] Searchers for Missing Pilot Vow to Work Until Dark Though Heat and Wind Are Taking Their Toll

Humboldt COunty Sheriff's boat.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s boat on the Eel River today near McCann. [Image provided by Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team]

As residents reported temperatures climbing to over 100° in some areas of Southern Humboldt today, teams of rescuers searched along the main stem of the Eel River near McCann for a local pilot missing since his ultralight plane went down before 11 this morning.

At 5 p.m. we reached Diana Totten of the Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team which had eight of its swift water rescue crew out on the Eel doing their best to find the missing man. Totten explained the team was working with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue boat. Her crew, she said, had “swimmers in the water checking all the back eddies.”  They also had crew members in a rubber raft searching in a two-mile section around the ultralight plane’s wreckage.

Totten said that the pilot’s seat belt had been unlatched. It is possible, she said, that the pilot had managed to bail from the plane and was injured somewhere. However, she worried that the Eel River was running with “its spring flow” and was very swift and dangerous.

Family members and private citizens were still searching as were Totten’s crew and the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team though the Coast Guard and its helicopter had returned to base.

Totten said the crews were determined to keep searching even though the wind was “blowing really hard” and some team members were exhausted with the heat and then the wind as well as the hard work. “We’re going to work til dark,” she vowed.

UPDATE 8 p.m.: Diana Totten tells us that the search is suspended for tonight but, she said, “We will continue the search tomorrow morning…This is a local tragedy. It’s one of the local guys we all grew up with. We’re going to stick with it.”

Totten said some family and friends were still searching the riverbank as dark approached hoping to find their loved one.

Meanwhile, the Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team will go back to their base, spread out their wetsuits to dry, and prepare to head out tomorrow morning. Hopefully, they will get a hot meal (as they had only snacks for lunch and dinner) and a good sleep.

“It’s going to be a late night and an early morning,” Totten said.

Earlier Chapter: UltraLight Plane Crashes in Eel Near McCann; Rescuers Search for Local Pilot



  • gee whiz!!!

  • <3 lots of love to Diana Totten and the Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team!!
    Going above and beyond the line of duty!!
    Hope the pilot is found soon.

  • Tired of the crime

    Do they need volunteers to assist with search teams?

    • Yes..there has been minimal help from law enforcement..and most help has been community-based..search efforts began again this morning..prayers…

  • I love you buddy we’re pulling for you over here. I hope you come home safely to the arms of your family❤️

  • We are beyond lucky to have these dedicated volunteers, the technical search and rescue go above and beyond every time.
    Hoping he is found safe and well soon!!!

  • Hopefully sense the seat belt was unbuckled they are ok and just trying to get help, I don’t think anyone would jump from a flying aircraft on purpose.

  • My hat gos off to the southern Humbolt rescue.these volunteers providing a outstanding service to sohum.and are good friends of mine.keep up the great work you all …

  • Hoping for the best

    A great way to help out is to keep the technical rescue folks well fed and watered!!
    Im sure our local food haunts would be glad to take payment over the phone for some meals for these folks, sponsor a rescuer 🙂

  • Cheers to hope

    Are there any agencies available with heat seeking technology that could fly around tonite?? Just curious, its something I assume we have in the county. Maybe they only use that for finding fugitives. Tracking dogs? That would be a good investment for our county, they are very useful in earthquakes as well.

    Being that hot today he could have gotten under trees to cool down and is most likely in shock, potentially passed out. Am picturing him alive and ok, praying hes found soon

    • Veterans friend

      CHP does have heat seeking tech.
      Why are they not helping?

      • Cheers to hope

        Thank you!! Im wondering why not as well.
        The lack of assistance from police agencied is horrible and an ongoing problem. And they wonder why no one wants to pay taxes, we’re paying for something we’re not getting.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking last night?!?

  • Thanks Jason Humphry for getting your riverboat there and looking for Rex. You’re awesome

  • Also a big thanks to Colby Edgins and Kyle Harrison for being in the water.

  • I hope s/he’s okay and parachuted to safety. Hopefully pilots can cruise the course s/he flew and search for tangled chutes. Prayers!

  • Look up in the trees in the surrounding areas. Just a hunch .

    • Truly not being a smart ass but f**k I never thought of that look up quit looking down good idea

    • I was just thinking that too. If his parachute has him stuck in a tree he could still be just fine. Sending so many prayers he is OK and hydrated enough to make it till they find him. Maybe he was just unconscious yesterday and today he can call for help!!

  • He was an ultralight plane. Not like a hang glider

  • Humboldtlifer

    Praying for his safe recovery. Love and prayers to family!🙏🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️

  • Need to get a drone in the air. Prayers!

  • Sending love and prayers to you and your family, here’s hoping that you will be found and back with your family. You were a great friend to me when my other half was gone for that time, you helped me get things done and I am so ever thankful. Your a good man, please god help this man find his way home.

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