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Plane crashes off NC coast – Coast Guard searching for 8 missing people

A Coast Guard helicopter (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 14, 2022

The United States Coast Guard is searching for a small aircraft that crashed off the coast of North Carolina on Sunday.

According to a Coast Guard press release on Monday, the search began Sunday evening in the area of the downed plane roughly four miles east of Drum Inlet. The Guard confirmed eight people were aboard the Pilatus PC-12 single-engine passenger aircraft when it went down.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector North Carolina command center received the report of a downed aircraft from an air traffic controller at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, which said the plane was “seen behaving erratically on radar and then disappeared from the radar screen.”

“A Coast Guard Station Fort Macon Motor Lifeboat crew was launched along with a Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet Response Boat-Small boat crew,” the Guard’s release read. “An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Air Station Elizabeth City was also launched to search the area.”

Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch, National Park Service beach crews, Towboat U.S., Carteret County Sheriffs Office, and Down East Fire Department are also involved in the search.

The New York Times reported that a Coast Guard spokesman, Edward Wargo, said on Monday that a boat crew and helicopter crew, which began their search on Sunday, were still looking for survivors Monday morning.

“We’re still searching the area, and we have local agencies on the scene searching as well,” Wargo said, adding that officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.

According to the Times, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are leading the investigation.

Last week, the Coast Guard rescued 18 people who were stranded on a sheet of ice on Lake Erie.

“#BREAKING Final number rescued from ice floe near #CatawbaIsland in #LakeErie today was 18; none needed medical attention. Photo below taken by Coast Guard helicopter crew. More details in attached news release at: #GreatLakesWinterSafety,” the Guard tweeted.

The Guard said the ice sheet broke away while people were snowmobiling and engaging in other winter activities near Catawba Island.

“Rescue efforts began about 1 p.m. after an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Detroit noticed approximately 20 people on an ice floe, with several ATVs looking for a route back to land,” the Coast Guard said in a news release. “The helicopter lowered its rescue swimmer and began hoisting operations while Station Marblehead’s airboat got underway. The helicopter hoisted seven people from the floe, four others were rescued by the Coast Guard airboat, and the remaining seven were rescued and transported to shore by a Good Samaritan who also had an airboat on scene.”

Emergency medical personnel were available, but no one required medical attention, the Guard said.

“There’s no such thing as safe ice, but people can mitigate their risks,” said Lt. j.g. Jeremiah Schiessel, from Coast Guard Sector Detroit, in a statement. “Always be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Great Lakes ice is unpredictable, and conditions can change fast.”