Floatplane Crash Victims Include Winemaker, Family

Civil rights activist was also among the 10 dead in Washington state crash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2022 5:12 PM CDT
Floatplane Crash Victims Include Activist, Winemaker
An Island County, Wash., boat searches the area, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, near Freeland, Wash.   (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

A civil rights activist from Spokane, Washington, a business owner, and the founder of a winery and his family were on the floatplane that crashed in the waters of Puget Sound, killing 10. The US Coast Guard released the names of the victims early Tuesday. The body of one of the dead was recovered by a good Samaritan after Sunday afternoon's crash. The other nine remain missing despite an extensive search. The Northwest Seaplanes flight was on its way from Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, to a Seattle suburb when it went down without sending out a distress call. The Coast Guard said it ended the search for survivors Monday afternoon after "saturating an area" of more than 2,100 square nautical miles.

The dead include pilot Jason Winters, activist Sandy Williams, winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty, and their child Remy Mickel, the AP reports. Also killed were passengers Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig, and Gabrielle Hanna. Mickel was the founder of Woodinville-based Ross Andrew Winery. "We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated at the loss of our beloved Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their unborn baby boy, Luca," the Mickel and Hilty families said in a statement. "Our collective grief is unimaginable. They were a bright and shining light in the lives of everyone who knew them."

The Washington State Wine Commission said Mickel had "an incredible impact on the Washington wine community" and will be greatly missed. Williams was a lecturer, filmmaker, founder of the Carl Maxey Center and editor of the Black Lens, an African American-focused newspaper. "Sandy was a voice for the voiceless, a tireless advocate for marginalized people in Spokane, a journalist unafraid to speak truth to power, a builder of hope in her vision for the Carl Maxey Center, and a beloved friend to countless members of our community," the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force said on Facebook.

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Joanne Mera was a business owner from San Diego, the Seattle Times reports. Her niece, Sami Sullivan, said she was visiting family in Seattle when the crash occurred. She leaves behind three children and a husband of more than 30 years, Sullivan said. "Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards,” Sullivan said in a statement. “She was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mom, wife, sister, and friend." Authorities say the cause of the crash is unknown and Coast Guard searchers have only found "minimal debris." The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday they’re sending a team of seven to investigate the crash of the DHC-3 Turbine Otter. (Read more Washington state stories.)

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