At least eight people, including three children, were killed when two airplanes collided over a scenic lake in northern Idaho, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said Monday. One of the aircraft was a float plane operated by Brooks Seaplanes of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which operates scenic flights over Lake Coeur d' Alene, the sheriff's office said.
That plane was carrying five passengers, including three children, and a pilot, the sheriff's office said.
The second airplane was a Cessna 206 that was carrying at least two people, the sheriff's office said.
A sheriff's dive team located the wreckage in about 125 feet (40 meters) of water, and the bodies of three victims have been recovered so far, the sheriff's office said.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are headed to the scene, the sheriff's office said.
The planes collided in the air near Powderhorn Bay at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday and plunged into the water, the sheriff's office said.
The lake was busy with boaters on the Fourth of July weekend and numerous personal boats went to the scene immediately in search of survivors. The sheriff's marine teams, fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard also responded.
Sheriff's Lt. Ryan Higgins said the recovered bodies had not been identified. Higgins told CBS Spokane, Washington affiliate KREM-TV.
Witnesses told KREM-TV they saw the two airplanes flying towards each other and colliding in mid-air, then plunging a few hundred feet into the lake.
"It was a cracking nose – a loud crack," said Grant Marchant, who said he saw one of the planes falling from the sky.
Angie Bishop told the station she saw a "big eruption of flames."
"You could just see debris falling with it and you can tell it was obviously an airplane in the sky. But it fell to the ground and a huge loud noise followed it," she said. "It was pretty terrifying. We were all standing at the beach watching it and completely shocked at what we saw."