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Small plane crashes in waters off Half Moon Bay; body of woman recovered

Crews suspend search for survivors after small plane crash in waters off Half Moon Bay
Crews suspend search for survivors after small plane crash in waters off Half Moon Bay 01:24

HALF MOON BAY -- The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said the body of a woman was recovered Monday who is believed to have been on the small plane that crashed in the waters off Half Moon Bay Sunday night.

The San Mateo Sheriff's Office said people reported a plane flying erratically east of the Moss Beach Distillery, near the Half Moon Bay airport around 7:13 p.m. Witnesses reported hearing the engine sputter and then they could no longer see it.

The plane was a Cozy Mark IV, a 4-seat, single-engine aircraft that had just taken off at 7:04 p.m. from the airport, according to the NTSB.  Officials previously said that the aircraft took off from a location in the East Bay.

Authorities have not released information on how many people were aboard.

The U.S. Coast Guard began a search for the airplane along with a drone from the sheriff's department. The wreckage of the plane was spotted about an hour into the search.

The initial search for survivors was suspended around midnight due to dangerous conditions caused by high tide, but authorities resumed the search at around 5 a.m. An estimated 28 square miles were searched over six hours, with help from the California Highway Patrol, the sheriff's office, the Coastside Fire Protection District and the Coast Guard.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said shortly after 10 a.m., a commercial fishing boat spotted a deceased female in the water. The woman was brought to shore and was taken to the coroner's office. 

Sheriff's office officials believe she was involved in the crash "given she was located in the same location."

At around the same time, the search-and-rescue efforts were again suspended due to the rising tides, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. The U.S. Coast Guard also stopped their search efforts a short time before that.

"It's never easy to make the decision to suspend search efforts, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families involved in this incident", said Ian McGoohan, operations unit controller at the Sector San Francisco Command Center.

So far, there was no word on whether the search would resume Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed it will investigate the crash of a small aircraft. An NTSB investigator is heading to the scene and expected to arrive Tuesday. Once at the site, the investigator will document the scene and examine the aircraft, which will then be recovered to a secure facility for further evaluation.  

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