SNOHOMISH — Two people died in a fiery plane crash around 10:20 a.m. between Snohomish and Monroe on Friday morning.
Public flight data suggested the plane was a Cessna 208B Caravan manufactured by Textron Aviation, Inc., in 2021. Usually the planes seat nine passengers plus the pilot, but the model can seat up to 14.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed a single-engine Textron 208B crashed east of Harvey Field. Fire District 4 Chief Don Waller confirmed the two people on board died in the crash.
Preliminary reports indicated the plane went down near U.S. 2 and 100th Street SE. Authorities located the plane in the middle of a field south of the highway, according to Fire District 4. Due to the damage, the passenger count was initially unknown, fire officials reported just after 11:30 a.m.
U.S. 2 was closed from 88th Street to Westwick Road until about 1:30 p.m.
Flight data for a fixed-wing single-engine plane based in Anchorage, Alaska, showed a rapid descent while circling east of Snohomish. Flightradar24 shows the plane leaving Renton and hovering around 9,500 feet in the air before falling. Authorities have not confirmed if this is the same plane that reportedly crashed.
The plane had flown over half a dozen times this week, according to Flightradar24 data. Almost all of those flights left Renton and returned there shortly after. The flights ranged from 20 minutes to over three hours.
The other flights took similar paths into Snohomish County, leading Flightradar24’s director of communications Ian Petchenik to guess the plane was used for sightseeing.
When looking at the flight data for Friday morning, Petchenik sees a plane out of control in the final moments.
“What I’m seeing is that’s not a controlled descent,” he told The Daily Herald. “The tightness of that final turn tells me that that’s not necessarily what they wanted to do with the aircraft.”
Before the flight data ended, the plane was diving at over 11,000 feet per minute, Petchenik said. A safe landing would be between 500 and 1,500. In 48 seconds, the plane went from 9,675 feet in the air to 775 feet, the last data received from the plane.
Petchenik figured the plane suffered something “catastrophic.” Given that a wing appeared to be located far away from the rest of the aircraft, he said it’s possible the wing detached in midair. If that was the case, it would be a mechanical issue rather than a human error that caused the crash, said James Anderson, an aviation accident attorney with the law firm Krutch Lindell Bingham Jones.
The crash caused a large fire, making access to the plane difficult, according to Fire District 4.
Weather conditions were chilly — in the 40s — but clear with little wind Friday morning in the Snohomish County lowlands.
Before noon, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board took over the scene from local fire crews. The NTSB, which will handle the investigation, was gathering information Friday afternoon, a spokesperson said.
Usually, the NTSB releases a preliminary report a few days after the crash with basic facts, said Anderson, who lives in Snohomish and interned at the federal agency in college. Then, the manufacturers are invited to look at the wreckage and write reports. It could take a year for a final report on the crash.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office will publicly identify the deceased by Monday at the earliest.
This is the second recent deadly plane crash in the area. In early September, a floatplane en route from Friday Harbor to Renton crashed off Whidbey Island, killing all 10 people in the de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter turboprop. In that case, a possible cause of the crash was identified: a critical part that moved the plane’s horizontal tail stabilizer came apart.