Medical transport plane crashes in Northern California; at least 2 dead

The pin on this map shows the approximate location of a medical transport plane that crashed near Arcata, Calif., on Friday. The plane's pilot radioed in a mechanical malfunction, saying the cockpit was filling with smoke just prior to losing contact. Four people were aboard; two have been confirmed dead. Photo courtesy Google Maps

ARCATA, Calif., July 29 (UPI) — Federal officials said a small medical transport plane crashed near the California-Oregon border early Friday and two people are confirmed dead.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the flight was operated by REACH Air Medical Services. It had the pilot, a nurse, a transport medic and the patient aboard and was headed from Crescent City, Calif., to Oakland, a flight of about 360 miles. The FAA did not say which two of the four passengers were killed.

The FAA reported the pilot radioed in a mechanical malfunction around 1 a.m. as the plane was over Arcata on Northern California’s Pacific coast. The plane, a dual-engine Piper PA31, was about five miles away from the Arcata Eureka Airport when it was heard from last, NBC News reported.

“At this time, we cannot provide the identity of those on board the aircraft, or other details, until family notifications have been completed. Any comment about the cause or other details of the incident would be unfounded speculation,” said Don Wharton, business director for REACH.

The Humbolt County Sheriff’s Office coordinated the search effort, which was initially hampered by marine fog in the area, which prevented a search by air. Deputies on the ground located the wreckage on a piece of private property not far from where the FAA reported losing radar contact with the plane, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.



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