MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities in Washington County continue to search for a plane, its pilot and two passengers, missing since Sunday afternoon. Three people were aboard when it took off from a South St. Paul airport Sunday afternoon.
Search teams believe the plane is located in a water-filled quarry on Grey Cloud Island, south of Mooers Lake and north of the Mississippi River.
The challenge, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, is that the water in the quarry is up to 200 feet deep. In general, quarries can have steep drop-offs, debris, industrial waste, and other complicating factors.
Officials did find a debris field and located wreckage some 70 feet down in 200 feet of water. Pieces of the missing Cessna Skyhawk were found near the water’s edge.
“We’ve used our side scan sonar and our robot we have located the plane, the wreckage of a plane,” Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said.
The plane was due to land at Fleming Field, a city-owned airport that handles mainly single-engine aircraft. Officials say it departed from nearby South St. Paul Municipal Airport earlier in the day. Communication with the pilot was lost.
Just before noon on Monday, crews said that they were in recovery mode. At about 7:30 p.m. Monday, divers appeared to pull something from the water.
Commercial divers are being used to recover the wreckage and locate the people who were inside.
“We know that there are three occupants — the pilot and two passengers,” Starry said. “The wreckage is in a lake and the lake is really deep … all that the wreckage is over 70 feet down.”
For now there’s no word on what caused the small aircraft to crash so soon after taking off. Crews are focused on finding the wreckage so they can determine what happened in the air before it crashed.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.