Divers search for missing Idaho plane crash victims, Cessna

Memorial at Brooks Seaplane

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Divers in Lake Coeur d’Alene continue to search for the remaining victims of Sunday’s plane crash.

On Monday, they recovered three more people. Two remain missing. The FAA said eight people perished in the crash. Two NTSB investigators and the FAA arrived last night.

Two people were in a Cessna and six were in a seaplane owned by Brooks Seaplane, a sight seeing company based out of Coeur d’Alene.

Witnesses found two people in the wreckage moments after it happened.

“We recovered six of those victims,” said Lt. Ryan Higgins with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office. “I can’t tell you what plane they came out of yet.”

Technical divers, who are trained to go into deeper water, were in the lake on Tuesday searching for the two still missing. However, the wind made it difficult to deploy the sonar boat, especially if they have to anchor down.

“That’s the number one goal that the sheriff’s office has right now is to find those last remaining victims and bring some closure to the families,” Higgins said.

The pilot of the seaplane has been identified as Neil Lunt. One passenger is Sean Fredrickson. Three children, two being his step-children, were also identified. Other names have not been released.

“We have a relatively good idea of who those occupants are,” Higgins said. “We’re waiting for the coroner’s office to give us the authorization to release those names and any further names at this point.”

Higgins explained that the bodies they recovered were found close to the crash scene. However, they’re also looking for the Cessna and believe there is another crash location.

“The Cessna is down there. We have a spot, we have another crash site, but we don’t know if that’s just a part of a plane,” Higgins said. “We think that the Cessna and the seaplane are together.”

The crash site spans about 500 yards, Higgins said.

Most of the fuel has dissipated. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has been notified. More fuel could spill into the water once the planes are removed. Higgins said the plane removal could start by the end of the week.

Officials have contracted a Spokane salvage company to remove the planes. Higgins said they could be removed using both cranes and flotation devices. A portion of the lake will be closed when this happens.

Boom operators, who will control any fuel leaks in the water, will be nearby. Some of the wreckage has already been removed.

“Everything that was on the surface that we’ve been able, that we were able to gather that day has been recovered,” Higgins said. “It’s being stored at a facility, drying.”

The NTSB will be at the scene for at least five to 10 days investigating. On Tuesday, investigators spent the day interviewing witnesses and looking at the crash site. They also went to the undisclosed location of the wreckage to examine what’s there.

Officials told 4 News Now that seven to 10 days after investigators are done at the scene, a report with some findings will be released to the public. The investigation will continue and it could take nearly two years to complete.

During the investigation, the NTSB told 4 News Now they look at a wide variety of factors including the people involved, licensing, traffic control interactions, maintenance history, damage and more.

Once the investigation is done, a factual report will be released. Three weeks later, a report with the probable cause is made public.

If you witnessed the crash, have pictures or video, you’re asked to contact the NTSB at witness@ntsb.gov.

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