Pilot of plane that crashed near Oceano is identified

Authorities say they do not know whether there were other passengers in the doomed plane

mfountain@thetribunenews.comJanuary 15, 2014 

Authorities have released the identity of a man they believe to be the pilot of the aircraft that crashed Tuesday afternoon approximately one mile off the coast of Oceano.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday confirmed the identity of 63-year-old David Brian Casey of Friday Harbor, Wash., as the owner of a wallet discovered near what is thought to be the crash site.

According to a news release, officials have not recovered any bodies, but Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said human remains have been found, though he declined to provide details.

The submerged plane still has not been located, and the Sheriff’s Dive Team and Marine Enforcement Unit continued to search the area.

Authorities said they still didn’t know where the aircraft departed from, where it was headed, or how many people were on board at the time of the crash.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a David B. Casey of Friday Harbor, Wash., is the registered owner of a single-engine, two-seater Morrisey 2150 airplane built in 1958.  Friday Harbor is on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington.

No other information about Casey was available by late Wednesday.

Once the aircraft Casey was piloting is located, the investigation will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.

The identification comes 24 hours after the Pismo Beach Police Department received the initial reports of an aircraft crashing into the water.

Subsequent reports came in from witnesses who claimed to hear a loud plane engine buzz overhead, followed by what sounded like an explosion.

One witness reported seeing a midsize aircraft hit the water, according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Eric Shalhoob.

A team from eight county and state agencies mobilized and set up a command post on the beach off Pier Avenue in Oceano by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire, Five Cities Fire Authority, the Port San Luis Harbor Patrol, State Parks, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the CHP, and the Pismo Beach Police Department, deployed helicopters, sonar and personal watercraft to search for survivors.

Officials reported an oil slick in an area about 1 mile offshore where the water is approximately 70 feet deep.

About 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the operation was reclassified as a search and recovery mission, indicating no survivors were expected to be found.

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