Seattle-area plane crash: 2 Minnesotans among 10 victims

Rebecca and Luke Ludwig, who died in a seaplane crash in Washington.  (Supplied)

A Minnesota couple were among the 10 people killed when a seaplane crashed near Whidbey Island in Washington on Sunday.

Rebecca and Luke Ludwig died when the plane went down in Mutiny Bay around 3 p.m. local time on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday. According to social media, the couple had two young children and lived in Excelsior, Minnesota. 

Rebecca Ludwig's brother Kyle Hosker released a statement to FOX 9, saying: "We have nothing to share at this time, other than we are coping with this tragedy with overwhelming support from family, friends, and a loving community. We ask that the media respect our family's privacy and allow us to deal with our losses without future media attention or prominence."

Rebecca Ludwig worked for Minnetonka-based UnitedHealthCare, the company told FOX 9. Luke Ludwig worked for HomeLight, a real estate technology company.

"Luke was a deeply devoted father, husband, outdoorsman, and coach for his kids’ sports teams, known for his remarkable kindness and generous spirit," HomeLight said in a statement to FOX 9. "We were privileged to know his warmth, intellect, and humor, and will miss him deeply."

The company called him an "incredible leader, engineer and mentor," noting he joined the company over a year ago. 

Coast Guard identifies 10 killed in plane crash

The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday released the names of the 10 people onboard the plane:

  • Pilot Jason Winter
  • Patricia Hicks
  • Sandra Williams, an activist who founded Black Lens New
  • Lauren Hilty
  • Luke Ludwig
  • Rebecca Ludwig
  • Remy Mickel, a child
  • Ross Mickel
  • Joanne Mera
  • Gabrielle Hanna

"The Coast Guard offers its deepest sympathies to those who lost a loved one in this tragedy," Cmdr. Xochitl Castañeda, the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for this incident, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the victims at noon (local time) on Monday after searching about 2,100 nautical miles. The bodies of nine of the 10 victims are still missing. Authorities did find a woman's body on Sunday. The coroner has yet to release her identity. 

"It is always difficult when it comes time to make a decision to stop searching," Capt. Daniel Broadhurst, Incident Management Branch Chief for the 13th Coast Guard District, said in a statement on Monday. "The hearts of all the first responders go out to those who lost a family member, a loved one or a friend in the crash."

Crash under investigation

Fire crews bringing debris ashore after a seaplane crashed in Washington on Sunday. (FOX 13 News)

The seaplane, owned by Northwest Seaplanes and operated by Friday Harbor Seaplanes, departed from Friday Harbor at 2:50 p.m. local time and was headed to Renton Municipal Airport when it crashed around 3:11 p.m. on Sept. 4, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release. 

Before the plane crashed, Northwest Seaplanes noticed a slight shift in the plane's direction compared to the flight plan and attempted to contact the pilot but couldn't connect. The company then called emergency responders, and soon after witnesses called 911 to report the plane crashed nose first, at a high rate of speed, into Mutiny Bay, off the coast of Whidbey Island. 

According to the Whidbey Island Fire Department, people miles away from the site reported hearing the loud bang.

It's unclear what led to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating. 

A few plane parts and personal items have been found, and authorities say debris from the plane, a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter, will likely continue to wash ashore in the coming days.

FOX 13 News in Seattle contributed to this report.