UPDATE (2:30 p.m., June 16): Lane County Sheriff’s Office identified the pilot as 69-year-old Richard Munger of Florence. His grandson, 15-year-old Benjamin Dressler from Washington, is still missing.
FLORENCE, Ore. — One person is dead and another still missing after a plane crashed off the coast near Florence Sunday morning. Search efforts for that second person still missing were called off late Sunday afternoon.
Search and rescue teams from multiple agencies scoured the beach and water looking for any sign of a person missing after a plane crashed into the ocean Sunday morning.
“9:47 this morning the call came in of a small, single-engine aircraft going into the water, crashing into the ocean about 100 yards off the North Jetty,” said Sean Barrett, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue fire marshall.
As divers searched the waters looking for the plane, pieces of the aircraft, believed to be from the Florence area, washed ashore. “Right now the way the flows of the current will flow north, so anything that was probably right out just almost even with the North Jetty where it went down, so it’s all going to head north. They’re already finding debris north of Driftwood Shores,” said Barrett.
With such a large search area, the Coast Guard had eyes in the sky looking for any sign of the missing airplane.
Shortly after the plane crashed, crews closed the beach to investigate after talking to those who witnessed the plane crash. “From what we’ve head there were lots of witnesses because it’s open beach today. A lot of witnesses heard a pop and then nothing and saw the plane go down,” said Barrett.
As the Lane County Sheriff’s Office gathers the plane debris, the North Jetty beach will remain closed to the public as the investigation into this deadly crash continues.