KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - The Coast Guard in Alaska says airplane debris has been found during a search for a medical airplane that went missing with three people aboard.
Late Wednesday, Guardian Flight identified its missing crew.
"As part of our ongoing efforts to keep everyone posted on developments, Guardian Flight has released the names of the personnel aboard the missing aircraft: Pilot Patrick Coyle, 63, Flight Nurse Stacie Rae Morse, 30, and Flight Paramedic Margaret Langston Allen, 43, all based in Juneau. We continue to ask for prayers and support as we focus on these crew members and their families during this very difficult time," Randy Lyman with Guardian Flight said in a prepared statement.
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Charly Hengen says searchers could not immediately confirm the debris found Wednesday is of the missing King Air 200 plane operated by Guardian Flight. The debris was found about 22 miles west of the southeast Alaska village of Kake, in the same area the plane was believed to have dropped off of radar while inbound toward Kake.
The Coast Guard says the twin-engine plane took off from Anchorage on Tuesday for a 630 mile flight to Kake, where it was expected to land at 6:19 p.m..
It never arrived.
Hengen says the search continues for the missing plane.
"We are saturating the search area in hopes that we locate them," Hengen told KTUU Wednesday afternoon.
Joel Jackson, president of the Organized Village of Kake, told KTUU local rescue boats went out as soon as they got the call that the aircraft was overdue.
"Immediately after getting the message we had six boats head out into the area, two smaller boats that are fast went out ahead of the bigger boats," Jackson said.
Other local search and rescue crews, good Samaritans, Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska National Guard are also assisting with the search.
"We all have heavy hearts. We had high hopes that we would be able to find them," Jackson said, explaining that search crews from Kake stayed out until midnight, then started again after nine this morning.
Kake and communities across Alaska have close relationships with medical flight crews, who are critical lifelines for individuals in need of critical care, but who are geographically separated from larger hospitals and regional hubs.
Guardian Flight has stood down, relieving its employees from flight duties while the company and its tight-knit staff cope with the incident." which Guardian has called "devastating."
Life Med Alaska is taking over Guardian's flights for the time being.