Cargo plane crash on Lummi Island claims pilot’s life

Herald staff

BELLINGHAM — A plane crashed Monday on the northwest tip of Lummi Island, killing the pilot.

Frank Babcock, 67, of Federal Way was the only person aboard the Empire Air plane, a Cessna Caravan, said Tim Komberec, president of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based freight airline.

Babcock was hauling cargo for Federal Express from Bellingham to Eastsound on Orcas Island, Komberec said. He had more than 30 years experience as a pilot and had been flying for Empire Air since 1989.

The crash occurred in a field about 9:50 a.m., said Nancy Corey, regional operations officer for the Federal Aviation Administration. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

  • Officers investigate shooting death: A 68-year-old woman was found shot to death in her home here. Skagit County sheriff’s deputies discovered the woman Friday night after friends were concerned that they were not able to contact her for several days. The Skagit County Coroner’s Office identified her as Willa Crowley. Deputies said the woman’s 40-year-old son was arrested Friday afternoon for investigation of a bank robbery in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, about 60 miles southeast of Boise. He was driving his mother’s 1987 Plymouth Voyager van. Sgt. Dave Willard said the man was being held in Idaho on charges of burglary. Deputies are investigating where the man was at the time of his mother’s death. The man was recently released from prison and lived with his mother. Deputies would not say for what crime he had served time.

  • Seattle firefighter arrested in woman’s death: A Seattle Fire Department lieutenant was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder after a woman was fatally stabbed at a home in this Pierce County community, police said. The victim was 31-year-old Sheri Wolf, a Pierce County medical examiner’s spokeswoman said Monday. The firefighter, who was not immediately identified, called police to the home Sunday night, a police spokesman said. The woman was found dead in the home. The firefighter was released on $50,000 bail pending a court appearance Tuesday. A motive for the attack was not immediately known.

  • Bus crash snarls traffic: A Metro bus rammed into the back of a car Sunday on the I-5 freeway bridge across the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Eight people on the bus suffered minor neck and back injuries. The Route 307 express bus was traveling from Northgate to downtown Seattle when it struck the rear of a car that had stopped suddenly because of heavy traffic, Metro spokesman Frank Abe said Sunday night. The bus crash set off a four-vehicle chain collision on the busy bridge, snarling traffic briefly. None of the vehicles was heavily damaged. The State Patrol cited the bus driver for following another vehicle too closely. The driver, a 22-year veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave while the accident is investigated. Metro refused to release her name.

  • Gorilla bonds with her baby: A 9-year-old gorilla and her day-old newborn spent Monday bonding at Woodland Park Zoo, where zoo keepers hailed the birth as a promising step forward the conservation of an endangered species. Sunday’s birth was a first for the mother, an endangered western lowland gorilla named Alafia. The infant, whose gender is not yet known, is the third offspring for its 21-year-old father, Vip. The zoo has put up temporary barriers in front of Alafia’s exhibit, which will remain in place until staff members determine that Alafia shows a "satisfactory comfort level as a new mother," zoo officials said. Ten gorillas have been born at the zoo since 1975. Eight have survived.

  • Yakima officer dies while diving: A veteran Yakima police officer died while scuba diving with a friend off Dash Point State Park north of Tacoma, the Pierce County sheriff’s office said. Gregory R. Floyd, 52, a police sergeant, was an experienced diver and it was not immediately clear what caused his death Sunday, said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer. Emergency crews received a call for help about 10:30 a.m. By the time they arrived, Floyd’s friend had managed to get him to shore. However, he was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma. Investigators planned to examine Floyd’s diving equipment to try to determine what led to his death, Troyer said.

  • Olympia man dies in boating accident: Police on Sunday recovered the body of an Olympia man who died in a river boating accident. Coast Guard officials in Juneau said Jesse Hall, 81, was on a fishing charter on Ahrnklin River near Yakutat Saturday when he was thrown from the boat after the vessel struck a log. Three other people who were thrown from the boat managed to make it to shore. The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Yakutat police searched for Hall Saturday without success and the search was suspended when darkness fell. Yakutat police found his body Sunday morning.
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